Playing Tyr’s Advocate, Plus You Are All Burying the Lede!

#Spoilers

Some new lore dropped with the pre-patch testing for Dragonflight. Community reaction seems to be mostly negative.

So what was this new lore?

We learned that Yogg-Saron contaminated a well of ‘living waters’. Galakrond drank the corrupted water and was transformed in to a giant rampaging monster. Watcher Tyr was tasked with building a facility to remove whatever Yogg-Saron put in the water. The purification of the water will be achieved buy infusing it with arcane energy. This will affect the dragons, but in ways that Tyr thinks will be advantageous to the Titans’ goals.

It looks like most people have read this as “Tyr poisoned the water to brainwash all dragons into servitude.” That seems like an extremely uncharitable interpretation that casts the events in as negative light as possible.

There are some things to consider.

  1. This is a letter from Tyr trying to convince other keepers that the dragons aspects will be good allies. He may playing up the effects of magic in order to make his argument stronger.
  2. We are not shown any kind of alternatives. This might be the only way to fix what’s happening, or the only way Tyr knows of.
  3. Tyr intent is clearly to help the dragons. He’s clearly already developed a fondness for dragons, and is doing this to help them.
  4. The dragon aspects were alive when this happened. They know about it, and have free will. They could be reversing the effects if they wanted to, but clearly they are not.
  5. Look at the results. What Yogg-Saron did created Galakrond, what Tyr did created the Dragon Aspects. It’s hard to find fault with that.

But let’s assume that the worst is true. Tyr was trying to brainwash and enslave all of dragon kind. That could the start of a decent story. We could follow Tyr as he becomes disillusioned with the vision of the Titans, grows closer to mortal races, and realizes he’s made a terrible mistake. Tyr has a reputation as one of the most noble and honorable characters in Warcraft history. Atoning for past mistakes might be part of the motivation behind the Tyr we are more familiar with. Maybe Tyr’s turned away from arcane magic and towards the light, because it could be used to empower mortals and keep their sense of self. Paladins would be Tyr’s new Dragon Aspects, but better.

From a writers perspective, I think that this information is only meant to flesh out the details of what happened when the aspects were created. I don’t think Tyr is being recast as an evil or even morally gray character. I think the writers see this as Tyr doing the right thing, or at the very least what he had to.

I think the reaction to Tyr’s actions creating the dragon aspects is completely overshadowing what we’re supposed to be picking up form this new lore.

We’re being told there is a back-up of Tyr’s memories in the same expansion that we’re being introduced to Sindragosa’s simulacrum. If we do not get a Tyr simulacrum before 11.0, I will be shocked. In fact, given what we know about Mimiron, we might just be brining Tyr back to life entirely.

In the end, I expect we’ll get a “Tyr is a good guy, he had no alternatives” statement from the writing team, and whole thing will be treated as Tyr doing the right and noble thing, saving the dragons. Which is almost a shame, because I think atoning for a past sin would make him a more interesting character.

At any rate, we can just ask him what he was thinking when we bring him back in 10.3.

Note: I stole all these images from Twitter.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Hear Me Out: Race Squish

The character creation screen is getting a little crowded.

The allied races were something that I personally wanted for a long time. What we ended up getting was not exactly what I had hoped for. To me, the dark ranger customizations are perfect. I like the story quests to explain the new options, and I like that the customizations can be applied to existing characters.

I am starting to hope that we might see a ‘race squish’ someday where allied race are rolled in to their parent race as extra customizations options. They can still be locked behind achievements, but let us apply the fun new things we’ve unlocked to our existing characters.

There would be some complications. Kul Tiran Humans are very different than Stormwind Humans, but now that we have body type as an option instead of gender, they should be no problem. A race squish would make racial abilities a little complicated. I do not think that dumping all the existing racial abilities on the the combined race makes sense, but I think that with Dragonflight, we are getting rid of a system that could be recycled as a good solution. The talent structure that is going away is very limited in how many options you have, and how many you can have active. Those limitations would fit racial abilities very well. Existing abilities could be moved in to columns that could be selected either at character creation, or through leveling. Most races will need abilities added. Filling out their lists of abilities opens up the opportunity to give more direct parity of racial abilities across factions.

For example, Gnomes and Mechagnomes are combined to one race. They would have a column of abilities to select from based on Gnomeregan Gnomes, and a column of traits to pick based on Mechagon Mechagnomes. To round out the selections, we pull the racial traits of a Horde group that has abilities of a similar theme to gnomes, like Bilgewater Cartel Goblins. This would give people more freedom to pick a race based on aesthetic. No need to worry about which racial abilities feel required.

It adds more RP flavor to each individual character. You could have a character that had lived in several different places that picked up cultural traditions from all of them, or stick to the one background, or if you don’t care about any of that, pick the ones that best match your class and playstyle.

The largest hurdle I see is Vulpera. They are not a subset of an existing race, they are a whole new group all to themselves. Balancing that out would mean either adding one new race to the Alliance, or having a Horde race become truly neutral. Either of those are likely to cause a lot of discontent with the player base.

Please try not to focus on which trait I put at which level, or how I filled in the holes where gnomes have less abilities than goblins. I was trying not make sure there were enough tiers that no race would lose any abilities, so there were some placeholder abilities I threw in. Not all the abilities would need to be location themed. Orcs, would probably get Blackrock, Warsong, and Mag’har as their options. Gilneans could have something like Worgen Curse, Touch of Undeath, and Purified.

Reorganizing these existing abilities creates a ton of RP flavor and makes balancing race/faction abilities practically automatic.

Another Reason to Like Gnomes

I know it’s an unpopular opinion at the moment, but I like Sylvanas Windrunner in Battle for Azeroth. She has done horrible terrible things that I will always condemn out of character, which has made me wonder why I still like her in spite of these atrocities. I think the answer is Motivation. Sylvanas clearly has goals and is actively flexing her agency to accomplish those goals. This is why a lot of villains are popular.

While reminiscing about Vanilla Warcraft I came to the conclusion that gnomes are the most Motivated race. Their city is in a shambles, but they are actively working towards retaking it. You run in to gnomes all over Azeroth (not many, but still widely scattered) and plenty of them explicitly state that they are where they are doing research on how to fix Gnomeregan.

No other group in Vanilla WoW had such a clear and driving goal at such a high level. The trolls were not as dedicated to reclaiming the Echo Isles (which they managed to 100% do anyway.)

I’ve lamented in the past that Gnomes had very little identity outside of Engineering. It’s an idea that I feel like doesn’t give gnomes enough credit and is a bias I myself had to take a hard look at to get around. Yes, engineering is important to them, and yes it’s one of the main things that attracted me to the race, but being a one trick pony always gets boring, no matter how good the one trick is.

I don’t see reclaiming Gnomeregan the same way I did in the past. It was not something I wanted in the background of my lighthearted, carefree race. Now instead of seeing a tragedy that drove gnomes from there home, I see the rally to conquer a common foe, to return to homes that had been stolen, and I know that, to some extent, anytime I see another gnome our characters have that in common.

That unifying goal give gnomes as a whole a personality that is hard to match. Worgen find themselves in this situation more than anyone right now. Goblins, Night elves and Undead are displaced, but their homes are essentially gone, and now they will have to find a new one. They will all set out in different directions for new homes. While the opposite is true for gnomes they have all set their course together with a common destination.

“For Gnomeregan” is different than “For the Horde” the horde rally cry is basically “Go Team!”. The Horde has the Horde, but we don’t have Gnomeregan, it’s something we are striving for.

I’m really happy Mechagon exists. It adds new gnome content without removing this large driving factor. The gnomes having a capital city is something I would love to see, and I do genuinely enjoy the peeks we are offered in to the current state of Gnomeregan by the pet battle dungeon and Heritage armor quests, and I think there is room for a raid in there someday, but I don’t think I want to see gnomes lose their white whale. Gnomeregan will always be a dungeon and that’s good, because it gives us purpose.

168775-operation-gnomeregan

My Take Away from Warcraft Classic

Full Disclosure: I have not played Warcraft Classic, but I have been listening attentively to those playing it, trying to understand why they like about it.  It sound like there are two things about it that really get people excited, community, and difficulty.

Difficulty:  Leveling in Warcraft Classic requires you to be more alert, and talent points make levels feel more impactful.  The raids are much easier, because 15 years of honing players against ever increasing bosses has led to a situation where a group of not even level 60 characters in green armor can clear Molten Core in less than a week.

Everyone knows that leveling in World of Warcraft has gotten onerous and wonky. I’m excited to see how the Devs take the information gained from Classic and use it in the impending level squish.

A while ago, I posted this about incorporating the Ironman Challenge as a feature that would be selected at character creation, or built into a special class, but now having a custom challenge server seems like the obvious solution.  “Extremophile” servers where things like, permanent death, disabled quests, NPC damage and health are increased, could be done.  It would have the advantage of putting everyone together in the same boat.  Right now if you are running the Ironman Challenge, most likely no one around you is, but if it’s a dedicated server, literally every other character would be playing by the same rules.

Warmode was a great addition to Normal Servers, but it seems to have taken something away from PvP servers.  I think removing the PvP flag from those servers was a step in the wrong direction.  Even if nothing mechanically was changed at this point, those servers have a strong cultural difference from normal servers that should be acknowledged.

Community: “With the LFG and LFR tools removed, people have to talk to each other.” is what I keep hearing about what makes the Classic community better, but what seems to really excite people are drive by buffs.  Getting Powerword: Fortitude, and Mark of The Wild cast on you as someone runs by is genuinely a great feel I remember back from Vanilla WoW.  I would not be surprised if weak “handshake” buffs were added for each class in the next expansion, so that walking past another PC means getting a little buff to say “Hi”.

Like the difficulty issues, these community issues could be addressed with specialty servers.  Removing the servers from CRZ and the disabling the LFG/LFR would be easy.  What else could be done to promote community at the server level?  What if “Lone Wolf” servers were created, a server where the character max is 1.  If you can only have one character on the server, and the barbershop is disabled, everyone will quickly become recognizable.  This would mean that you only have 2 professions on that server, so no making an alt for each profession and mailing yourself materials.  No bank alts would mean that the cities would not be full of low level characters standing around ignoring everyone.

What would all this lead to?  I don’t think I’m too far outside the realm of possibility when I suggest Private Servers.  Not the illicit pirate servers that people create, but a monthly fee to Blizzard for a server that people can join by invite only.  This is how Minecraft has operated for years.  When you’re paying for the server, you could set any number of options, disable features, set character limits, permanent death, or whatever settings are deemed acceptable by Blizzard.  If Private Servers happened, I imagine they would mostly be used by streamers to create servers for just their fans, and very VERY large guilds. These servers would probably not contribute to account wide collections either.

What do you think?  What kinds of challenges would you like to see added to retail?  Would you be turned off if Private Servers became an option?  What are the best parts of classic that could be brought to retail?

NewServers

Are Gnomes Heroes?

Are there any gnome heroes in World of Warcraft? I know there are a few notable gnome charaters, but do any of them qualify as true heroes? Do player gnomes even live up to the definition?

Let’s start with a solid definition of what it means to be a hero. I’m going to be using the Hero’s Journey as a template.

Heros-Journey

Let’s look at Mekkatorque and his progression through the Hero’s Journey.

1. Status Quo. Mekkatorque has been leader of gnomes for a long time.

2. Call to action. The Invation of Gnomeregan. The quite orderly city of Gnomeregan is invaded by troggs. Mekkatorque takes steps to defend it.

3. Refusal of the call. In most stories the hero doubts their own ability to rise to the challenge. Mekkatorque’s refusal is diffrent. He refuses to reach out to the Alliance for assistance.

4. The Mentor. The Fall of Gnomeregan. Gelbin’s ‘mentor’ is his advisor Sicco Thermaplugg. Thermaplugg takes action that forces Mekkatorque’s hand.

5. Crossing the threshold. Gnomeregan must be abandoned. The gnomes must leave their orderly society and forge a new existance on the foreign and wartorn surface.

6. Trials. War with the Horde flaires up, the Burnimg Crusade happens, and the war in Northrend. The players participate in these events, but Gelbin does not.

7: Approach. Operation: Gnomeregan. Moira takes the throne in Ironforge and evicts the gnomes. For the second time, Mekkatorque’s hand is forced.

8: Ordeal. Cut Short. Gelbin is trapped alone in his own office. He confronts his personal guilt for the tragedy, he must defeat 3 troggs unarmed, and finally look the gnome who betrayed him in the eyes. Gelbin’s ordeal here is primarily mental, finding the strength to accept and move past what has happened.

9: Reward: Gelbin founds New Tinker Town. His confrontation with Thermaplugg ended in a stalemate so Gnomeregan remains out of reach. Mekkatorque’s journey seems to have has stalled.

10: The road back. Gnomeregan is being cleansed. We know that some sectors have been reclaimed. The G-team and S.A.F.E. have agents all over the place restoring order and rebuilding.

11: Atonenment. Have the gnomes forgiven the High Tinker? No, and they can’t because they never blamed him. Perhaps if we see a gnome election in the future this stage could be satisfactorily resolved.

12: Return: This will be when Mekkatorque stands as High Tinker of Gnomeregan once again. A better, wiser ruler for the experiences he has had.

Clearly Mekkatorque has not finished this journey, but he acts like he has. His appearances in the Siege of Orgrimmar,  the Broken Shore, and at the Battle for Undercity are the actions of a transformed gnome. Clearly he has completed the journey. Unfortunatly for us it seems like much of his adventures happened off screen.

And what of player gnomes? Mekkatorque’s story is our story. The amount of that story that takes place off screen is a problem for us. A new gnome starts right at stage 5. We are immediately forced across the threshold in to our trials. Their is no status quo for gnomes. We never see who they are in the beginning so we have no idea how their adventures change them.

Idealy our starting zone would take us from steps 1-5. The worgen have an amazing starting zone that really informs the players who they are, who Genn is and what has called them out in to the wider world.

It is a shame that the gnome starting experiance doesn’t start before the invation of Gnomeregan. I hope that when gnomes get an allied race, their introduction will give them the background they need.

Gnomes in the First War

Was your gnome around during the first war?  If so they were probably in Gnomeregan or maybe Dalaran, they may have been aware of the conflict or completely oblivious until the news of Stormwind’s destruction.

If you want a gnome that participated in the first war, consider Sunnyglade.  The town of Sunnyglade was destroyed in Warcraft 1. Only one building was left standing, a mage tower that the orc warlocks needed. That tower is (most likely) now the Tower of Azora, populated almost exclusively by gnomes.  Despite the fact that it is a mage tower, it has been stated that most of the gnomes are not mages, so a gnome of any class could be from here.

Let’s take a step back, look at some simplified high level stuff, and maybe put on a tin foil hat.

When the human kingdoms were taught magic by the high elves, the mages left Strom and went north to found the city of Dalaran. The people that formed Stormwind left Strom and headed south.  This might not seem like a big deal, but this southward journey is when the humans came to really know dwarves*.  See that asterisk on dwarves?  Anytime you have dwarves you have *(and gnomes).

I propose that human mages did not travel south to Stromwind, but along the way a group of gnomes joined up with those humans and accompanied them on their travels.  These gnomes went on to teach the southern humans their techniques of arcane magic.

In founding the town of Sunnyglade, the gnomes and humans created a place dedicated to higher learning.  With a reputation as a center of knowledge, the Horde decides to target it because they want more information about human magic.

The town is raised except for the tower, which is looted.  The inhabitants that don’t flee or escape are captured by the horde, but soon liberated by the armies of Stormwind.

Because their is little to no information surviving about the town, there’s a lot of room for players to write themselves in.

WarCraft-Orcs&Humans-Orcs-Scenario6-Sunnyglade

What I Want in a CLASSIC Warcraft Server

WARCRAFT: CLASSIC!

Featuring 2 Playable races!

Humans: From the Kingdom of Stormwind.  Brave new recruits have been called to Northshire Abbey! An army will be needed to fend a new threat to the world of Azeroth.

Humans can play as 6 classes:

Warrior

Rogue Hunter Priest Mage Hero Class: Paladin
 WC1PFootman  WC1PBrigand  WC1PArcher  WC1PCleric  WC1PConjurer WC1PKnight

Orcs: Hailing from a strange alien land that no human has ever seen.  The orcs have overrun the Black Morass and established a base in Blackrock Mountain.  New Orcs are arriving through the Dark Portal every day!

Orcs can play 6 classes:

Warrior

Rogue Hunter Shaman Warlock Hero Class:Death Knight
WC1PGrunt WC1PGarona  WC1PRaider WC1PSpearman  WC1PWarlock WC1PNecrolyte
  • Play all the way to level 20 in a matter of mere months!
  • See the Original Elwynn Forest before Duskwood.  See the Original Dark Portal before the Blasted Lands.
  • Delve in to dungeons like the Dead Mines and Temple of the Damned!
  • Raid Medivh’s Tower!
  • Every building in the game can be destroyed!
  • Two professions: Mining and Carpentry!
  • Only PVP Servers!
  • Come experience the magic before it is completely and utterly ruined for all time by the Stranglethorn expansion!
  • Azeroth* is waiting for you!

800px-Warcraft_I_-_Map_of_Azeroth

*(Azeroth limited in some areas)

Feeling bad about gnomes.

Last week I tweeted this:

To clarify, I don’t feel guilty about playing a gnome or anything like that, just unfulfilled. Race is literally the first thing you are asked to define about your character when you create it. It informs where you fit in the world. (Class is how you fit.)

For years I’ve tried to encourage people to play gnomes (or at the very least, to treat gnome players with more respect)

I saw huge potential in the race, and believed that at some point that potential would be relized in the game world, but I don’t think I feel that way anymore. I still think the potential is there, but I don’t think anything is going to come of it. I’ve lost the faith.

I hope this is just a temporary feeling. Right now I feel like I should be warning people away from gnomes rather than encouraging them.

“No story here, look elsewhere for a race that exists”

The Last Gnome of Uldaman

The sounds of her footsteps echoed in the large empty halls of Uldaman.  Her last mechagnome compatriot had succumb to the curse of the flesh and passed away almost a decade ago. She’d not expected to last this long on her own. In spite of her isolation, she did not feel alone. The earthen here, asleep, but alive, and the keepers. Even though they all slept, she still felt that they were with her.

She patrolled the halls, everyday maintaining the same maintenance protocols, another day, no news or updates. She rounded a corner, and suddenly halted. There stood another gnome. Not just any gnome. It was herself.  Shocked, she couldn’t react for a moment.  The other gnome with her face was looked up from a glowing pocket watch. “Oh there you are!  I came to watch but I think I am here too…” the doppelganger spoke quick and vanished quicker. Gone.

Over the next few days she continued her rounds, but she’d been shaken. The appearance of that strange other gnome. Had her brain begun to fail her so badly?  An unease crept into her mind. Perhaps something was wrong, that could explain the phenomenon she’d encountered. She began to expand her maintenance routines. Something had to be wrong somewhere. Everyday, instead of doing the same checks, her inspections would push deeper. There had to be an explanation.

Slowly her investigations began to reveal something. The earthen were not as well preserved as they should have been. The curse of flesh was corrupting them more than should be possible in their slumber. What could be the cause? She ran weeks of in depth diagnostics. Her routine of the same thing every day melted away. Now everyday was something different. Chasing after a ghost in the machine that had caused the disruption.

Finally she found it. Low power? It couldn’t be low power. The arcane matrix that sustained this facility was powered by directly from the leylines of Azeroth. This site had been chosen because it was a nexus where they could tap into the energies of the entire planet. There was no way this could be happening.

At a lack for answers, she did something she hadn’t done in centuries. She walked to the entrance and took the elevator up to the surface. She’d not seen the sky in so long. It took her eyes a while to adjust, but then she saw it. When Uldaman had been constructed, the area and been lush and forested. Her eyes were not met with the landscape she remembered, it had been transformed into a baked barren wasteland. Her heart fell. The layline must have shifted, or the collectors had been compromised somehow, or… who could know?  Instead of taking energy from the whole of the world, it was draining it from just the local area. It was more than the land could sustain.  There machines had soaked all the life energy here, killing almost everything, and having done so, it was now run dry.  The facility had ruined the entire area, and for what?  Now there was nothing left to sustain the beings inside it was designed to save.

This meant so many things. The gnomes that had left so long ago had surely perished. She and the earthen would be next as this land would not be able to support them much longer. She took the elevator down and began running through the halls.  She had to get the keepers to awaken. They would know what to do. They would have to…

*SLAM*

She crashed into something, no someone.  Her double had returned.

“Ow, sorry. I didn’t mean to get in your way. I think I’m much closer to when I need to be, oops! Here let me help you up. I’m not supposed to interfere, but since I already knocked you down.” It didn’t quite sound like her. Of course, it had been along time since she’d said anything so she wasn’t sure. “Please continue what you’re doing. I am close now to…” the other gnome turned a dial on her pocket watch and disappeared again.

She stood there stunned for a moment. That had to have happened. It was physical, she’d touched it, but what was it?  Why did it look just like her?  She pushed those questions out of her mind.  They were a distraction.  There was a real pressing problem that she had to address.  The keepers were needed.

 

Why? They had locked themselves in their vaults, WHY? For days she tried to open them with no progress. Now she just sat in front of the door. Maintenance didn’t matter. The facility was failing, there was nothing to do to stop it. The magnitude of the failure was more than could possibly be reversed. For days she didn’t move, until the other appeared again. “the incident, that I think I can collect the information I need. You probably have a millions questions.  I’m not supposed to say much, but I know you are an archivist. you could say we both have an interest in preserving history. Sorry I look just like you. We’re supposed to approximate the average appearance of the locals, but you’re the only one here.” the other gnome then giggled, and then flushed, “I’m not laughing at you being alone, or the way that you look, I actually quick like it.” She held out her arms admiring herself. “hang on, this isn’t the right room.” She pulled out the pocket watch and disappeared again.

Alone again. She stood up, and began to walk slowly. For the first time since she could remember she was going nowhere. Everything was so wrong. The need to do something was driving her forward, but the lack of information left her directionless. More information, that’s what she needed. She went back to the deep diagnostics she’d done and began to pour over them. There had to be some useful information in there, something that would give her a clue to answer.

Days were spent, she reviewed every scrap of information in the archives, she looked at measurements from the facilities matrix. Nothing. Nothing that could revert what had happened. Something occurred to her. She when back to the records from when the rebel gnomes had left. Something one of them had said was in the archives. “We spend all our time preserving the past, when do we begin to build a future?

She new what she would have to do. She went to the facilities main interface station. She pulled up the status information. Some of the earthen were in much better shape than the others.  She would divert the power from those that were in the worst shape and use it to awaken the others.  They had the best chance to survive in the badlands the area around them had become. The others might awaken from their slumber when the machines powered off, but they had already changed so much, it might be a mercy if they never awoke.

Finally she had set-up the sequences. The last thing to do was to activate. She hesitated. The facility was the only thing keeping her alive at this point. Awakening the earthen would result in a complete shut down. Looking down on her hands. Slowly she pressed them together. They were so different now from the strong metallic bronze hands she had been created with. That seemed like millennia ago. All the others had passed on. She new that it would only be a matter of time for herself as well. She silently cursed that they had not discovered the flaws earlier, soon enough to do something about it. The past was as ever set in stone though. It was not their place to deal in ‘what ifs’. Directly manufacturing her own destruction was counter to everything in her, but at this stage her own end was already assured. Theirs was not. Finally she took a deep breath and began the sequence.

Almost immediately after she began to feel the energy drain out of her body. Listing to the sounds of activity echo through those halls that had been silent for so long was like a breath of fresh air. She laid back and closed her eyes only to be surprised by a flash. That other gnome had returned. It was still rambling on as it had every time she had seen it. She could only make out a few of the words she was saying, “…Your name… please… just tell me your name…”

No name came forth. Her eyelids were impossibly heavy and closed again on their own accord.  She felt a hand lightly rest on her shoulder, and as all sensation faded away she hear one last thing from her strange guest, “…If I can’t tell the world your name; I can at least show them your face.”

Discsofnorgannon