Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

Posts tagged ‘Wrath of the Lich King’

RP Archives: Meetings

This is the first archived RP I have “fictionized.” It takes place as much of our RP did, during the Wrath era – before the Lich King was defeated. It starts around the time of Ulduar. I hope it reads okay, due to the back-and-forth nature of RP most of these will be pretty dialogue heavy but I’ve tried to smooth them out with more in-between things when necessary. We occasionally used in-game friends as casually mentioned “extras” (i.e. mention of a rogue included an actual rogue) which some people might recognize but I’ve removed any such names because those people didn’t agree to be part of fiction we were writing.

Late afternoon sun streams in the windows of The Legerdemain Lounge in Dalaran. The low hum of conversation in many different languages carries through the open space. It’s not full to bursting with patrons, but a number of people occupy different scattered tables.

At one of these sits an aqua-skinned draenei woman. She is hunched forward with one elbow on the table, the sleeves of her violet robes are pushed past her forearms. Beside her is a small pile of books haphazardly stacked, a half empty cup of tea, and a plate with a few crumbs on it. The last book seems to have been set aside in some disgust, a keen observer might note, as it reached the other end of the table before sliding to a halt. No books open now, she idly watches the crowd. Her eyes stray now and again to the elf who is tending bar, as if she’s keeping an eye on him.

She notes with interest when a new customer enters the establishment, one of her own people, unusual for the fact that he is wearing heavy armour in stark contrast to the more casually dressed crowd. The woman watches as the other draenei strides noisily up to the bartender and orders an ale. He sits on a stool at the bar and she can almost hear its protest as it groans under the weight of a fully-armoured male draenei.

She purses her lips in a considering fashion. He looks familiar. Especially when he sits down and she sees the back of his head, she thinks that she might know this man. She glares at her discarded book for a moment, then goes to take a sip of her tea. Finding it stone cold, she takes the opportunity to walk up to the bar herself.

The male draenei has not noticed her, his attention inevitably drawn to a table of three orcs sitting not far away. As she reaches the bar he says something loudly in Orcish. Definitely loud enough for the three orcs to hear: they turn as one to glare at him menacingly. The draenei warrior stands up from the stool, hand going to his scabbard as he and the orcs stare at each other. After a moment, one of the orcs says something that sounds insulting and they all head towards the door.

The draenei woman nods pleasantly to the bartender, who takes her cup and hands her a fresh one wordlessly – as if they’ve performed this same exchange many times before, possibly many times today alone. Turning to the burly draenei who has resettled his alarming bulk onto the beleaguered stool, she says in Draenei, “Three to one? Not good odds, assuming you didn’t exactly invite them to enjoy their beverages and have a good afternoon. I never did get the hang of Orcish myself. Too guttural.” She gestures at her throat with a shrug.

He turns around quickly and then relaxes when he sees the dark-haired mage, recognition lighting in his eyes. “A minor disagreement, that’s all,” he assures her.

She inhales the steam from the freshly poured cup of tea and nods, sliding onto the stool next to him while carefully holding the cup, each movement deliberate and easy. Her lips quirk slightly in a half-smile, still speaking Draenei. “Ah, I see. As in…they exist, and you disagree?”

He lets out a hearty laugh, leaning back and grabbing his tankard. “Something like that, yes! It’s a pleasure to see you without the stench of battle all around. It’s, hmm…Millya, right?” Even as he speaks to her, his eyes roam the room, keeping an eye on the surroundings.

He gestures over at her books on the table. “I was going to mention that you shouldn’t leave your books unattended, but most of the patrons here would only take them in the hopes of finding them illustrated.”

The other draenei laughs, giving the books a dismissive glance as she drinks a bit of tea too quickly. “I wish them much joy of them! At this rate, they aren’t doing me any good.” She glances at him. “Vosskah, yes? Do you make threatening orcs a regular part of your daily outings or was that that just a happy coincidence?”

Vosskah smiles and sips his ale, nodding. “Well, insulting orcs makes your day feel fuller, no?” He looks over at her books again, significantly, clearly seeking a change of subject. “Let’s leave those smelly, fatherless thugs where they belong. What are you reading, if I may inquire?”

She raises her eyebrows, setting her tea cup down. She tries to sound carefully neutral in reply to his question, but it’s all over her face that she doesn’t expect him to understand one word in three. “What am I reading? ‘The Effect of Relative Distance and Multiplicative Spellcasting on Azeroth,’ ‘Arcane Adventures: A Dalaran Perspective,’ (don’t ask) and ‘A Treatise on Temporal Rifts.’ There’s something I’m trying to figure out, but I think it might best benefit from more practical application.”

Vosskah nods, seeming unphased. “It’s a pity that these Dalaran mages seem to have a passion for shoveling clouds in their treatises on magic. I wonder where you could find a more practical view of things. Perhaps Stormwind? In the Royal Library? But first I should ask, what are you trying to figure out?”

She furrows her brow. “Well, the long and short of it is that I’m trying to figure out the fastest way to apply a lethal blast of magic. It’s an efficiency thing, I suppose. There’s this smarmy little human who keeps stabbing things before my spells ever get there. Highly inefficient, such a waste. And so messy – her, that is.” She pauses and sips her tea again.

He chuckles. “I know the human you mean. I spend hours cleaning my armour after the messes she makes of things. For an expedient use of magic, I would definitely look into the human research. They are not the most patient people.”

Millya heaves a sigh. “You know, that’s a good point. Of course, I’ve studied many different branches of the arcane arts, but it seems when it comes to offensive magic that they’ve spent more time perfecting its application – despite what our relative lifespans might suggest.”

He shrugs massive armored shoulders. “Well, knowledge for its own sake is a luxury most of us don’t have, especially in times of war. Having such a short lifespan does add some urgency and motivation to accomplish things, don’t you think? They live but the blink of an eye and yet, look at them here. They’re spending those few moments they have fighting incredible odds and dying to them. Interesting people.”

She sips her tea thoughtfully and nods. “They make powerful allies. And powerful enemies.” After a moment, she adds, “You know…you don’t really sound like someone who gets hit in the head for a living.” The other draenei chuckles and takes a sip of his beer.

“None taken. You’re aware that we do have a great amount of padding in those helms, right?”

Millya taps her forehead lightly. “Faceplates aren’t exactly negligible protection either, though I’ll take your word for it about the padding. Sometimes I think it’s a wonder anyone can fight while weighed down with all of that.”

“It’s a question of habit and training. There is thought behind our actions as well. We need to really think about how to insult an enemy enough that he focuses on us and leaves you to burn his backside.”

Glancing meaningfully at the recently vacated table where the orcs had been sitting, she murmurs, “I’ll bet.”

Vosskah follows her gaze and grins broadly. “Some are easier and dumber than others.” He tips his head back and finishes the last of his ale. “Say, I must run but am loathe to end this lovely conversation. Would you be amenable to reading a book in this place tomorrow at the same time and I’ll walk in and insult some peons and I will buy you a drink…or a tea?”

She laughs. “If I haven’t set my books on fire by then…” Her face gives a lie to the words. She would never actually set fire to her books. “I tend to be here most free afternoons. I’ll polish up on my Orcish so I can better enjoy the show.” She looks down at her now empty tea and sighs, and then back at the books. “I should get back to it, anyway. Be well, Vosskah.”

He nods and sketches a short, soldierly bow in her direction. “And you, Millya. I am looking forward to stumbling upon your reading again.” He leaves some coins on the counter for the barkeep and leaves. Millya could swear as she resumes her seat at the table that she can hear the distant sounds of a scuffle somewhere outside – the clash of metal and indistinct shouts, but she shrugs it off. It’s probably just her imagination.

Cinematic Retrospective: A Look At Warcraft Trailers

As most people have probably heard, the Mists trailer is out this morning! I watched it eagerly and I really enjoyed it. I saw some comments going around where people were comparing their “favourite” trailers or rating and numbering them. It seemed like a good opportunity to go back in time a little bit and reflect on the trailers for the previous expansions. It’s interesting to see the evolution in both aim and tone.

Vanilla

For me what really stands out about the classic “World of Warcraft” trailer is that it’s quite ambitious for the time. Keep in mind, I didn’t play the original Warcraft RTS games nor did I watch this trailer when it was current. Based on the way it’s put together, it feels to me as if they really wanted to highlight and showcase the various races that would feature in the game that people knew and loved from the originals. So it’s very, “Look, it’s a dwarf! Look, it’s a night elf! Look now she’s a panther OMG you guys!” That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either!

Something interesting to note for later (if you’re watching the cinematics along with me) is the characterization of the orc versus later orcs. The orc in this cinematic is very much “ROAR” and look there is fire and I am big and scary. To my ears he even sounds more bestial/brutish; if watching this trailer were my only experience with any Warcraft stuff I might think he was a monster rather than a playable, sentient race. This cinematic sets out to get people excited about what they will see in the online version of Warcraft, and is obviously aimed mostly at fans of the Warcraft universe.

The Burning Crusade

This is a trailer I watched closer to when it was actually released. I didn’t have any idea of the backstory of Illidan (Tyrande, Malfurion etc) at the time so I had no idea who the scary guy with the voice was. Watching it now with different eyes, I can appreciate the impact of the Illidan voiceover. You know it had a lasting effect, because how many times did you hear someone make a joke or quote, “I/You/Your Dog was not prepared”?

The blood elves and the draenei are characterized; they did a particularly good job with the female blood elf, in my opinion. Especially the first time you watch this trailer, you’re surprised by her sudden shift in attitude from seemingly innocent to sinister. There is a need in her that’s frightening, which is exactly the story of the Sin’dorei in the Burning Crusade.

Up until this point with the cinematics, Blizzard has been outdoing themselves each time. I’m not talking about the actual graphics of the cinematics (although they have obviously improved, along with technology) but also the scope and ambition. This one shows the Dark Portal with its swirling door – challenging players, even mocking them. “You are not prepared” became a catchphrase because it was so memorable and it hits right at the heart of gamers. You think I’m not prepared? I’m going to show you how prepared I am!

Wrath of the Lich King

This trailer. (Did you watch it again? You really should.) This trailer gave me chills. It’s so cleverly done. The juxtaposition of Terenas Menethil instructing his son on the responsibility of royalty paired with the dark visuals and the true horror and irony of what his son went on to become are nothing less than masterful. I don’t know if it’s because Blizzard had such a legendary figure from the previous games to build upon, but in terms of cohesiveness and impact this trailer blows all of the others out of the water. I can’t even find something to nitpick about with it. It has awe-inspiring visuals, emotional heft, and it also tells a story. Even the music used for it is phenomenal and it lends much to the story itself as the trailer unfolds. It is a tragic lament, an incredibly sad song – in keeping with what is also a tragic story.

The cinematic leaves you wanting to defeat the horrors that are hinted at here. I look at the legions of undead and I still get twitchy even to this day. I really want to kill the Lich King and everything he stands for. And this is knowing that I’ve already done so! This trailer is successful even when it’s an anachronism. Basically, I love it, and I loved Wrath, so I am clearly biased.

Cataclysm

The trailer for Cataclysm is an interesting case. I would argue (and you’re welcome to disagree) that it is much less successful than any previous trailer, even the Vanilla trailer. Oh sure, it has impressive visuals. You get the lava and the forge and the big dragon. But for me therein lies the problem that we’ve been talking about for all of Cataclysm: the story told in this trailer really boils down to “I am a big dragon destroying your Azeroth rawr.” It’s sad because the character of Neltharion has a lot of meat to it, none of which featured in Cataclysm at all. I found myself struggling to remember whether I even heard his voice when you’re fighting him, or if I only read what he said on the screen? The fact that I can’t remember seems eloquent enough to me.

That’s where this trailer falls down. It has some emotional impact, yes, but all of the weight of the trailer rests upon the locations Deathwing is destroying. It relies on you caring about seeing them destroyed. In that sense, it works. Seeing Thousand Needles awash in a great tidal wave is definitely upsetting. But other parts of the trailer just expose the suspension of disbelief necessary for Deathwing to work as a villain, and why he simply wasn’t that effective in Cataclysm. He was STANDING on Stormwind and he didn’t just raze it to the ground. Yes, it’s distressing to see a dragon with his claws planted at the front gate of Stormwind. But you know that Stormwind wasn’t actually destroyed, and then you have to wonder, why not? It took us an entire expansion to take him down, but for the majority of that he was just flying around randomly breathing fire on some things. Someone on Twitter pointed out (I’m sorry, I can’t remember who to attribute this to) that Deathing is basically a griefer. He waits until you are AFK and then ganks you by setting a zone on fire. I know some people joked that during Wrath we saw Arthas a little too much, but we saw him just enough as far as I’m concerned. I’ll never forget running into him in the “dream world” near Utgarde and how he squashed me like a bug. He was a villain who made things personal.

Other people have delved into this more deeply than I want to get into here, but essentially: Deathwing is just a big dragon (yawn) and that’s basically this trailer to me.

Mists of Pandaria

Now we get to the exciting new shiny that everyone wants to talk about! First of all, I want to talk about the orc  here. (Remember how I mentioned orcs earlier?) Notice what a huge difference there is with this orc versus the first orc featured in the classic WoW trailer! This orc is canny. He doesn’t just come lumbering up to the human, he’s watching him for a moment, gauging his opponent, thinking. Oh, there’s no doubt they are going to end up fighting (hello, orcs and humans) but he doesn’t just charge in blindly. When he accidentally reveals his position with a sound, then he’s lost the advantage and he seizes what he has left to him to try and catch the human off-guard.

I really like the way they chose to portray both the orc and the human here. The human is also a grizzled veteran and someone used to command. He’s not going to back down from a fight with the orc, and it’s a great fight scene. As the trailer goes on, the appearance of Chen Stormstout just makes it better. Of course it has all the kung fu movie type tropes (effortlessly dodging attacks and putting both opponents down repeatedly, etc. Although the human does take a chunk out of his hat!) This is basically just a good, wholesome fight scene and it’s enjoyable to watch. There are moments of subtle humour, too – Chen replaces the pedestal the orc broke and then straightens it (you can almost hear him thinking “HMPH,”) and when the human hands the orc the spear their open-mouthed gaping is priceless.

But what about the story, since I was so down on the Cataclysm trailer and Deathwing for lacking a story? Well, it’s an interesting trailer because unlike the previous three expansions (and as Blizzard themselves have made this clear) it doesn’t have a “big bad.” You don’t see any villains in this cinematic at all, unless the humans and orcs are the villains, and we just might be in this context. But that doesn’t mean it’s lacking a story. Chen’s voice over speaks volumes about that with the more philosophical questions. “Why do we fight?” etc. The moment when the mists dissipate to reveal the rest of Pandaria gave me chills just like the Wrath trailer. Again, it’s a completely different approach and that’s what I like about it. It takes several themes – the conflict between the Horde and the Alliance, the nature of the new race we are meeting – and interweaves them.

We know that Mists doesn’t have one overarching villain the way previous expansions did. That doesn’t mean it lacks conflict. The trailer left me with a strong wish to explore this land and get to know its mysterious inhabitants. That is the best place you could hope for a trailer to leave you – excited, anticipatory, and impressed. If this world is even half as beautiful as the trailer would suggest, I am going to be ridiculously happy wandering around it at the end of September.

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