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Eye of the (Stranglethorn) Tiger
One more to go.
Eye of the Tiger!
Shoop da whoop!
...okay, I'm done. Sorry 'bout that.
When we last left off, I'd gotten my dungeon-crawl on in the max-level Hellfire Citadel, Coilfang Reservoir, and Auchindoun instances. Tons o' fun, and tons o' XP. When all was said and done, I found myself at a few bubbles into 69. Lots of rested XP, which was pretty damn nice. Still, I couldn't find many groups for dungeons... but thankfully, I had a log full of quests for Netherstorm, and I'd barely gotten started.
There's a fairly long quest line given by a High Elf Mage in Area 52 that I pick up. The High Elf, Ravandwyr, laments that his master-the Archmage Vargoth-had entrusted him with his staff and needed it to break free of his imprisonment in the Violet Tower (at this point in the chain, no information is given about why the master is imprisoned or what the hell the Violet Tower is, so I was just kinda going with the flow)... but because he was a n00b, he let the headpiece get stolen by a big bad demon chick! Silly elf.
So, he asks me to go get the headpiece from these demon-infested ruins. Dammit, I hate demon-infested ruins! I've also got a quest to go to the same ruins and teleport some stolen equipment back to the goblins, though, so I decide its worth my while.
Demon chick, Ekkorash the Inquisitor, turns out to be a pansy, I get the elf's headpiece, and bring it back to him triumphantly. Only, it turns out that it's broken and contains no more supreme mystical power than your average table doily. D'oh!
All is not lost, though! There's a nearby ruin (infested with angry vengeful Draenei spirits, not demons) where there are magical mystery crystals. The ghosts like the shinies, and so pick these crystals up. If I go and kill enough of them, maybe I could get enough of those crystals so that Ravandwyr could make a bootleg headpiece! Hey man, I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark. I know what happens when you try and make bootleg staff headpieces. You get your face melted off, that's what!
Meh. That's why we have rez spells. Ok, this I can do. There's a goblin lady outside the same ruins with a robot that's designed to go into there and examine some specimens of something-or-other, and she'd like me to escort it while it gets its job done. I'll be killing the Draenei ghosts anyway, so I figure why the hell not?
It turns out neither she nor I need worry, because there's a good number of people there that pretty much keep the ghost population to a minimum. Kinda makes it hard to kill the ghosts, though-and that, coupled with the fact that the crystals seem to be a relatively low drop rate, means that this is a fairly frustrating quest to finish. I really hope they raise the drop rate for release-on all of these sorts of quests-because otherwise, doing them on high-pop servers is gonna be rough.
Eventually, I get enough crystals, and Ravandwyr tells me to head East, to the Kirin'Var village. I note that this name sounds an awful lot like "Kirin Tor," and coupled with the references to the color purple (no, not the book) and the fact that Ravandwyr's master is clearly a mage makes me think that this is probably a wizard village. Like Hogsmeade, except with fewer British teenagers.
I'm mostly right. It WAS a village established by the Kirin Tor who were in Outland at the end of the Second War. However, it's completely in ruins right now, aside from the large tower standing in the center. There are angry and vengeful spirits as well as elemental-ish things called Magehunters all over the place. Clearly, something is rotten in the state of Kirin'Var.
There are some friendly ghost NPCs around the area who give some quests and let me know what's up. Apparently, Kael'thas's Blood Elves, when they moved into the neighborhood, felt the best way to greet their new neighbors was to come and mercilessly slaughter them all. The only one they left alive was the Archmage, Ravandwyr's master-who they kept imprisoned during the entire assault via a magical ward placed on his tower. He couldn't get out to aid his comrades, but they couldn't get in at him, either.
These ghosts, unlike the rest of the villagers, retain their sanity and memories of life. Two of them-a farmer and an apprentice blacksmith-don't apparently realize they're dead, as they keep talking to unseen people and talk to me like they're still alive. The blacksmith tells me that he's finally finished his last test as an apprentice, and asks me to go present it to his master. However, the master blacksmith is one of the insane and hostile ghosts, and so we've gotta put him down. His apprentice is shocked and doesn't understand what would have happened to his master, but says that he must now become the craftsman the villagers need.
The second one, the farmer, gives a quest (named "Needs More Cowbell," heh) to go get his beloved cow, Bessy, and bring her back to him. The cow, too, is a ghost (aw, who would murder a poor sweet helpless cow?), but is far less wimpy than the cow critters throughout Elwynn Forest. In escorting her, she actually holds her own.
All through the area, there's this feeling of melancholy and malaise, but a lot of it is about giving these spirits closure. The young apprentice finishes his training posthumously, the farmer is reunited with his cow. There are also four named spirits wandering Kirin'Var, and each of them, when defeated, drops a personal item of theirs.
The "Battlemage" drops a sword, a wandering gnome gives up his hat (amusingly, the quest text says that putting it on gives you a strange urge to dance), an elf drops his cloak, and a human female drops an old tome. However, instead of being a spellbook or tome of dark mysteries like you'd expect from a wizard, it turns out to be an old, well-worn storybook.
The sane spirits at the base of the Violet Tower ask me to return these effects to the homes of the various dead mages, with little anecdotes about each: talking about how the elf never wore the same robe twice in a row, but always wore his cloak, or about how the gnome nuked someone who tried to prank him by stealing his hat, etc.
Since Kirin'Var is probably the biggest village that's not an outright city in the entire game, returning these mementos to their original spots is kind of tough, but not too bad. When you complete the quests, the spirits come, find their cherished item (remarking how they couldn't find it anywhere before), and give a little scene before vanishing (and the gnome does, in fact, dance for a bit).
Honestly, I really, REALLY enjoyed those quests. They're not big, not epic, not involving the fate of the entire world. Don't get me wrong, those sorts of quests are damn awesome, and I love 'em. But these four quests, just helping individual spirits rest at last... they were really well done. It was on a very small scale, very personal, and you still managed to get a feel for the characters of the four dead mages. It's tragic and a bit sad that they're dead, but they can finally be at peace. Maybe it's just me, but I found it to be very well done, and actually fairly touching.
Other spirits, though, retain less of their original selves. And the only way to lay them to rest is to set them on fire. Hey, different strokes for different folks, right?
I'm also tasked to find out what exactly caused all these spirits to retain some semblance of physical form, as well as caused all the elementals to swarm the village. I find the remnants of a mana bomb in the village, so there's the culprit. Damn Blood Elves.
Speaking of Blood Elves, I'm asked to go take my revenge on the nearby Sunfury camp... by taking a torch and burning their tents and ballistas (ballistae?) to the ground. My kind of quest, I can tell you that!
There's a named NPC walking around the Blood Elf camp, and when I fight her, she does this weird attack that creates a flame ring around me with a debuff warning, "Don't leave the ring..." I decide to leave the ring anyway and die. Granted, I was at, like, 1000 health anyway, but still. It was pretty funny.
...maybe you had to be there.
Anyway, being in possession of Vargoth's staff allows me to break through the magical barrier around the tower and contact an image of him. I don't know why exactly I need to talk to an image when I could, uh, just walk up the stairs and talk to him in person, but that's just how things get done around here. Don't like it? Tough!
Vargoth is pleased with Ravandwyr, and starts sending me on quests. The Alliance Expedition brought with them two relics of Krasus (for those of you who don't read the novels, the short of it is that Krasus was a powerful Kirin Tor Mage who was, in reality, the red dragon Korialstrasz, one of the mates of Alexstrasza) when they crossed through the portal. The first, the Sigil of Krasus, was taken by Kael'thas when his forces crushed the village. Vargoth has me go get it from a Blood Elf lady that works at one of the nearby mana-forges, and I do.
The other-Krasus's Compendium-was stolen before Kael'thas's attack by a rebellious apprentice of Vargoth that sought to practice and research necromancy. The archmage asks me to retrieve the various chapters from the ruins of Kirin'Var. For a brief while I'm worried that it's going to be another one of those 'kill for random page drops' quests (Damn you, Hemet Nesingwary!) but it turns out that the chapters are clickable objects in the world. I'm thankful.
This starts a quest chain. There's something unnatural about the ghosts in the upper part of Kirin'Var-uh, other than the fact that they're undead, that is. Something's going wrong, and we (a Shaman buddy and myself) go to investigate. There's a device hidden in a barn that seems to be corrupting the ghosts somehow, and one of the sane spirits back at the Violet Tower believes it's a necromantic focus.
While we're searching for the device in question, we go to the church that all ruined former Alliance towns are required to have, and run into an elite lich named Naberius. So yeah, that was just kinda like skipping a good three or so quests in the chain. Uh, for the sake of plot continuity, forget I just told you that.
Custodian Dieworth-the sane spirit that's been giving us all these quests-tells us that the Archmage had several apprentices. One of these was Ravandwyr, and we already know him. The other was named Naberius, and he sought to practice necromancy. When Kael'thas approached, Naberius sold Vargoth and his comrades out and gave the secrets of Kirin'Var to the Blood Elf army. Now, he's a lich... and Dieworth asks us to find his phylactery so that he can be destroyed.
Gasp! This Naberius sounds like an awful fellow. Finding this out was completely unexpected and in no way revealed earlier by an accident in exploring the area! No, not at all!
It turns out that the phylactery is hidden... in an outhouse. Yes, that's right, Naberius threw his soul into the crapper.
...well, I know that -I- certainly don't want to go get it. So, uh, I guess it works after all. Still, we get the phylactery and then bring it back to Dieworth, who asks us to put an end to the lich Naberius once and for all. Gosh, I sure never saw that one coming! Not at all. Never in a million years.
It turns out that, due to his innate Frost resistance, ranged attacks, and surrounding masses of NPCs, Naberius is rather hard to kite as a Mage. So, one death later, me and my Shaman pal shack up with a Rawrdrood and kill the lich the old-fashioned way. The reward is... well, for me, it's a pretty nice robe, but there's something for everybody.
There's also a sort of ghost that you become rather intimately familiar with during the quest that has, at time of writing, the most useless debuff ability of all time.
Yes, it's a bug. Yes, it's still funny.
Meanwhile, the Archmage Vargoth is still sending me on errands to try and get him free. However, it turns out that the one thing that can possibly set him free is in the custody of a Blood Elf... in Tempest Keep. Instance run, hoooo~!
Except, I don't have a flying mount, so, uh... instance run... sometime!
Going back to central Netherstorm, I make my way to Stormspire, which is the Consortium headquarters.
There are some various quests there, including one to find the location of a valuable crystal via triangulation, which I decide to do later. There's an Ethereal wanting to do work on a nearby ruin, but it's infested with demons so there's a no-go.
A pair of Goblins that work for B.O.O.M. discreetly tell me that they've been pilfering Consortium technology and ask me to run some errands for them.
I head to the Northeast, and find myself in another camp of Ethereals, but they aren't Consortium. Instead, they're the Protectorate, a group of bandage-guys aimed at fighting Ethereum (eeeeeevil Ethereals) as well as the Void Lord Dimensius and his void-creature minions.
There's quite a bunch of quests from that hub-and while doing one of them, in the nearby Ethereum encampment, I finally get that last Fwaoooshbing! that I'd been waiting for.
That's right. I've powered up. Like Rocky Balboa after a training montage, I am unstoppable!!
Ding! 70, biznatches.
Yay for flying mounts. I love mine so. I will call him Terrence.
Until next time, Jayne(z) out!
And have a very happy holiday season, everybody!