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

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Warcraft Chronicle: The Expansion Trilogy Primer

I finally got my hands on Chronicle 1 and read it.  It was very enjoyable and easy to read. The lore is presented in a clear and relevant way.  I think I am starting to see the purpose of these books.

For some background, I SWEAR I head in an interview at some point that Legion, Warlords, and the next unnamed expansion were conceived as a trilogy, and there was some debate on which order Legion and WoD should occur in. (Once/if I can find a source I will link it.)

That would make a ton of sense with the Chronicle trilogy.  Chron 1 has a ton of info that becomes relevant in Legion, and Chron 2 has a ton of info that was relevant for WoD.  I think these books are intended as primers for the expansions, but that story flow changed after the books had begun production.

If that’s is true, it means that the next expansion will be heavily influenced by something that happened during the 3rd war, but that we were largely unaware of during the game Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos.  That does make Kul’tiras far more likely, as we haven’t seen anything from them in a long time.

The book was not exactly what I was expecting, or more accurately, what I was hoping for. I Thought these would be something that would help supplement role-play and character histories for WoW. It’s kind of painful how light the background information on some races is, especially when you know this was it. In a way, these books close the door on developing the history of the world further.

It felt bad seeing gnomes as a footnote to the dwarves in every chapter that mentioned them.  Dwarves have a section and interesting history and events that make zero mention of gnomes, but the reverse is not true. Even the chapter called the ‘Exodus of the Gnomes’ is as much about what is going on with dwarves in Uldaman as it is about gnomes, and it literally establishes that gnomes have no culture or history.  They mention a gnome female who saved the entirety of the dwarf race, but the book doesn’t give her a name, and the dwarves are ignorant to her sacrifice, so it’s unknown and unknowable by anyone, which really undermines the significance of it.  The section on Goblins is even worse. Their origins are glossed over so vaguely as to be non-existent, then they are slaves for 1,000 years, then Kaja’mite.  It doesn’t feel meaningful or informative because it’s so curt.

I am aware that largely those are not problems with the material, but a misalignment between my desires and the goals of the material.  The parts that were not about gnomes/goblins I was actually able to enjoy more because I was less invested and therefore I could just relax and take it at face value. I am looking forward to reading Chron 2 and 3, especially if Chron 3 has build up for the next expansion!

ChronTri

Journal Entry, clOCTogear 1st, 2017

Lots of Holidays are happening on the surface right now.  Brewfest of course.  The Dark irons are using some auxiliary tunnels from Gnomeregan as a staging area to attack Brewfest.   At first I was hesitant to allow them to launch an attack directly from here, because we are so close to Ironforge, and direct conflict would be messy.  But then I found out they let Mekkatorque be the guest of honor!  I’ll do ANYTHING to spoil his party!

https://wow.gamepedia.com/Brewfest

https://wow.gamepedia.com/Harvest_Festival

https://wow.gamepedia.com/Hallow%27s_End

Reasons to like Gnomes

Let’s be honest for a second.  Gnome fans are a vocal minority.  Gnomes are the least popular race in the game (second to goblins), BUT those fans are very invested in the lore seemingly more than any other.  This might be because gnomes are one of the least developed races in the game, and so we are starving for lore, or it could be that there is something about gnomes that really resonates with their fans.  A ‘relatable’ feeling that really gets gnome fans especially engrossed in their story.  What could that relatable thing be?

Appearance: At the surface level, some people relate to gnomes physically.  Either they see an aspect of their own physicality in gnomes, or they are attracted to them.  Besides the obvious (their height), gnomes are built very differently from other races. Representing lots of body types is good. Gnomes aren’t the super skinny like a lot of female characters are in fantasy art. Mostly gnomes seem to be considered cute, but I’ve also heard them described as, “plump in all the right places.”

Intelligence: All the lore descriptions of gnomes generously professes their genius. Some people would rather be smart than strong.  Outwitting your opponent instead of trying to beat them through attrition.  I think this might be the strongest aspect of gnomes and the reason most people are drawn to them.  I see a lot of Draenei fans also like gnomes , and intelligence is the strongest link between the two races. They don’t have that over the top muscular build that most races in Warcraft have either. Gnomes diminutive stature implies that they have non-physical edge to keep up with the larger races of Azeroth.

Care-free: Gnomes in Warcraft have a tragic backstory, but individually, they don’t seem to be dark or brooding.  There are a lot of sad stories in Warcraft, and sometimes you want a break from that.  Gnomes are often light hearted and upbeat.  They laugh a lot and don’t take themselves too seriously.  (Which is good because no one else seems to take them too seriously either.)  It’s nice to keep things upbeat.  There is a lot to appreciate about the dark and sad moments, but you don’t always want to ‘live’ there.  I think this is one of the reasons reclaiming Gnomeregan is such a big deal.  Gnome players would like to see this aspect of the lore brought more in line with gnomish personality.

Underdogs:  Who doesn’t enjoy an underdog?  Gnomes start at a level of disadvantage that few other race in Azeroth currently endure.  Their home is a toxic wasteland, their closest allies in Ironforge rescinded sanctuary and exiled them AGAIN.  Their first major attempt to reclaim their homeland after 10 years failed.  If you like having the odds stacked against you then gnome is the way to go.

Outsiders: It’s possible that the hate they get from other players drives a certain kind of person towards gnomes.   Loners that don’t like to socialize as much, or people that feel personally ostracized for one reason or another and relate to that.  Even the occasional agitator who enjoys annoying others, and rolls a gnome to gank horde and make them rage at getting killed by a pipsqueak.

Agnostic: In fantasy, there are tons of religions, and for the most part they all tend to be true in most regards. Gnomes on the other hand, did not believe in anything.  Despite the powers flexed by priests, druids, shamans, and paladins.  Gnome remain agnostic in their belief.  It’s something that you rarely see in a fantasy setting.  Atheists are a minority in most places, and so seeing some representation is unexpected and refreshing.  When they added priests, they managed to not abandon this aspect of the race. I have a lot of respect for that.

Gnomes seem to be filling a lot of niches that are traditionally ignored in fantasy and that’s great, I love it.  Transgender dragon?  Bring it on. Gnomeregan can be a home for anybody!

fanart-0743-large

Should Casters Use Their Weapons in Casting Animations?

Back at Gamescom2017, Ion Hazzikostas, @WatcherDev was answering questions on twitter. One of which was, “Isn’t now the best chance to add animations using the staves for caster classes (at least optionally)? That would be so great.” -@AlexCC94

The answer from Ion was, “Spells in Warcraft have historically been conjured, not channeled through weapons.”

I’m going to show my age and point out that weapons were used for caster animation in Warcraft 3 and they looked cool.

 

 

Uhhh… ok, maybe not that troll one in the middle… but the others look good!  Most of them are even just weapon swings with a particle effect.  It would seem like something like that might be easy to accomplish with cosmetic glyphs or transmog options.

Weapons could be used to denote a difference in what is happening, such as casting a spell vs channeling a spell.  You could make any number of arguments for when weapons would and would not be best utilized in casting animations, but I think all it boils down to casters wanting to see their weapons used in any kind of way other than a stat stick that never moves from their back/hip.

No matter how epic and awesome looking your weapon is, it is diminished if you literally never use it.

 

Gnomes in Hearthstone, Part 4, Final

Here we are at last.  We’ve talked about drawing cards, buffing and debuffing,  and a how intelligent gnomes are.  Now we’re going to talk about the odd gnomes out. The cards that feature gnomes, but where the mechanics are not prevalent enough to imply a common theme.

Let’s start with Leper Gnomes.  Leper gnomes in hearthstone do direct damage to the enemy hero.  This sets them apart from goblins, that do lots of damage, but tend to do it randomly, or have some form of blowback.  Thermaplugg does not directly do damage to the enemy hero, but he summons the basic leper gnomes that do.

Transformation!  I was surprised there were not more gnomes that did this because Tinkmaster Overspark is such an iconic gnome in Hearthstone.  The theme of transformation seems to have shifted to Shaman.  Since Gnomes can’t be shamans, it makes sense that this would not be something they continued.

Healing! Only a couple gnomes heal. In World of Warcraft, gnomes did not have a healing class for a long time. Seeing healing being under represented as a mechanic makes some sense. It would be interesting to see some first aid themed gnomes that heal, perhaps a Surgeon General “Doc” Cogspin someday.

And the rest!  These final gnomes don’t have any kind of special condition that make them thematically consistent with gnomes.  Hearthstone is a very random game.  The only structure they stick to is based on class not race.  Honestly, it surprised to see how strong some of the trends have been.

There are a few cards I want to single out in this last section:

The Knife Juggler.  He is SUCH a Goblin.  Deals damage to Random Enemies?  Total Goblin.  If he was a rogue exclusive card I could understand it.  Class over race for balance, but he’s not.  He is a neutral card.

Sergeant Sally is walking that same line with her AOE damage. I almost shoehorned her with the lepers because she does a straight forward damage to non-random targets.

Mind Control Tech is another I am surprised we don’t see more of.  All three of those cards have long convoluted conditions about when and how their abilities work, so maybe that is another theme, or maybe not.

 

And that is it!  we have covered every gnome minion card in the game as of “Knight of the Frozen Throne”  After doing this I was surprised by something that Hearthstone is famous for but is larging missing from the gnome kit: Randomness.  Not to say their is no randomness in gnome cards, but it less than in a lot of other aspects of the game.  Frankly I’m almost relieved.  Gnomes have a reputation for devices that malfunction and backfire.  It’s part of why people don’t take them more seriously and I’m glad to see it largely ignored here.  Gnomes in Hearthstone are reliable, the way it should be!  (Let gobins own the ‘blowing themselves up’ shtick .)

With gnome story so light in Warcraft, we are challenged to look for the details we can tease out in other places.  It can be a fun and unique challenge.  The more I do it, the more I enjoy it.  If you are interested in more I also have a post about inferred gnome lore from Warcraft 2.