How Evil Should Thermaplugg Be?

In many ways Mekkatorque and Thermaplugg are defined by their relationship with each other.  It’s difficult to talk about Thermaplugg without talking about Mekkatorque.  They have a very clear cut and close relationship as antagonists.  Gelbin is the hero and Sicco is the villain.

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There have been some hints recently that Thermaplugg is attempting to clean up Gnomeregan and cure the leprosy himself.  I think that giving Thermaplugg more depth and development is great.  Thermaplugg’s actions inform us, as players, first hand of the notorious flaws of the gnomish race, in the same way that that Mekkatorque shows us their greatest strengths.  Seeing these two characters in active conflict is exponentially more effective at defining ‘gnome-ness’ than any out of character write up could ever be.

In order for this style of storytelling to work we need both sides to be developed.  Both characters to be interesting, engaging and little bit relatable.  Thermaplugg being undeveloped undermines Mekkatorque’s development.  Warcraft primarily tells it’s story though villains.  We spend as much, if not more, time interacting with enemies than we do allied heroes.  Confronting evil is how our characters interact with the world and it is how we as players learn to understand life on Azeroth.

I have joked that I would like to see Sicco get redeemed, saved, or even, turn out to have been the good guy all along.  It would be fun for me, but it would be bad for gnomes in general.  We need him to show us what the moral, ideological, and conceptual failings of gnomes.  I feel like currently Thermaplugg is perceived by a lot of people as Stupid Evil.  I hope that these new lore hints are leading to something that put an end to that perception.

Breaking Mekkatorque

Sicco Thermaplugg marched towards Gelbin Mekkatorque’s office.  He carried reports from the field, mostly bad news.  There was determination in his walk.  He had something new to show Mekkatorque today, not that it would make a difference, but it would be an opening the Mekgineer needed to get the High Tinker to listen.

There was a banging on his door, Mekkatorque sighed.  The months of fighting troggs had taken a toll, and he was exhausted.  Thermaplugg opened the door without waiting to be invited in, per usual.

“I have the latest numbers.” Thermaplugg dropped a pile of rolled up papers on the desk.  “It’s not good news.  I did want to talk to you about…” as Sicco spoke Gelbin closed his eyes, ‘Here it comes again‘, he thought, ‘that horror show Sicco had been pushing for months‘, but to his surprize, Sicco’s next words were not what he expected, “…something new.”

Thermaplugg unrolled a large schematic.  “What is it?” Gelbin asked. On the table lay a schematic for a battle armor suit, a huge one. Sicco watched the High Tinker’s face light up, clearly he’d gotten Gelbin’s attention.

The Mekgineer continued, “We haven’t updated the mecha-marine units since the war with the orcs.  They didn’t see much action, so there was not much field test data to work with. I call this rig the ‘Gnome Pounder’.  This new design gives them sufficient power to outclass the largest troggs we have encountered and is still maneuverable enough to pass through the tunnels easily.”

It was a breath of fresh air for Gelbin.  Thermaplugg had always squirmed in his position as the Mekgineer General of the Mecha-Marines.  Could this be a sign that Sicco was done with his endless attempts at one upmanship and finally getting down to the business of his position?

Sicco continued pointing at the schematics and explaining, “I had originally wanted to put a canon on it here, but the recoil was too much and I had to go with a pulverizing arm.”  Sicco turned to face Mekkatorque with a self satisfied smirk on his face.  There was hope in Gelbin’s eyes, exactly what Sicco wanted. “There is just one problem.”

Gelbin felt the brakes clamp down on his enthusiasm. “What’s that?”

Sicco took a deep breath, “We can’t build it.”

“Why not?” Gelbin insisted surprised. His eyes scanned the schematics for something he had missed. “This all seems good Sicco, there is nothing here outside our ability to fabricate…”

“There wouldn’t be, if we had free access to the engineering bay.  With the lock down in place there’s no way to get there from here without a fight.  We’ve slowed down the troggs, but we’ve also cut ourselves off from our resources.”

The excitement on Mekkatorque’s face began to fade.  He knew it was true.  Gnomeregan was built it be incredibly easy to transverse, but once the invasion had begun, the lock down protocol had changed all that.  It had been designed to keep the citizens sequestered while threats were pushed out of the city.  Turning the city into a maze of disjointed rooms and winding passages with ‘defendable’ entrances and exits.

“The engineering bay is in the lowest section of the city.” Sicco stated plainly.

Gelbin turned to look at him with a questioning look on his face that quickly fell into a scowl, ‘here it comes‘ he thought, but this time he was more than just annoyed.  “You are not going to strip my bolts with this again, are you!?  I can’t agree to that atrocity you’ve been planning.  Did you draw up these plans JUST to get me to listen to THIS again!?” Frustration bubbled up out of Mekkatorque’s voice.

Sicco had counted on getting Mekkatorque riled up, but now to see Gelbin like this it occurred to him that he had never seen the High Tinker like this before.  It was a touch fascinating and terrifying.  He really had know idea what this gnome, famous for his cool head and reliability, would do next.  Thermaplugg pushed forward.

“How many gnomes have to die for you Mekkatorque?” Sicco pointed at the reports he had brought in. “You’ve seen the same numbers I have.  This is getting worse, not better.  We used the old kobold shield wall strategies and they failed, because the troggs are too strong.  We used the tanks we built for pushing back the trolls and THEY failed, because they were too big to function under the surface.  We are learning, but not fast enough.  This isn’t a lab, we don;t have time for experimentation.  The consequences are real!”

Mekkatorque began to crack, “Do you think I don’t see that?  I know each time we are forced to change strategies we lose more ground…”

“And we lose more gnomes! Yet you refused to evacuate the city.” Thermaplugg shot back, “Now we have gnomes trapped behind enemy lines.  At our current rate of iteration and development, how many more failures before we get the upper hand?  How many gnome lives are spent while you sit around trying to figure something out?”

Mekkatorque rebuffed, “Every gnome I send out there has a fighting chance of coming home. If we do what you suggest, their blood will be on our hands, MY hands.  Blast it, even the troggs don’t deserve the a cruel death you have concocted.  It’s not a defense, it’s an extermination.”

“You’re worried about the well being of the troggs now!?” Sicco recoiled.

“That’s not what I mean and you know it Sicco.” Gelbin said with a sober tone.

It was true, but Sicco pressed the point anyway, “Ten percent.”

Gelbin finally replied after a pause, “Ten percent what?”

“Casualties to the gnome martial service under my plan.  You may say that those lives would be on your hands if you do this, but I’ve seen these numbers.” Sicco picked up one of the scrolls of the table.  “You’re looking at twice, maybe triple that from any of these alternate solutions.  THOSE are the gnomes whose blood you need to think about.  Gnomes who in the end could be ALIVE because of the decision you make.  Face reality Gelbin.  These aren’t our old enemies, kobolds, trolls, even orcs.  These creatures don’t want our resources.  They are frenzied killing machines.  They will not stop until we are wiped out.  We can’t drive them back into the tunnels they can from and seal them up, we have to eradicate them before they eradicate us.”

Sicco watched Gelbin silently for a long time.  His face was unreadable.  Sicco’s heart was racing, sure this was his last chance to present this idea and keep his position as Mekkatorque’s advisor.

“Bring me the plans and formulas for the irradiator.”  Gelbin finally said; his tone betrayed no emotion. “And start setting up what you need.  Once I give the final approval I want it ready to go.” He turned to look away from Sicco, “Time wasted is lives lost.”

“Right away, Sir.” Sicco surprised himself, he never called Mekkatorque Sir, not in all the years they had worked together had he done so. “Most of it is already set-up. My mephitichemists have been collecting the materials and brewing the fuel.  We just need to cut into the main…” Gelbin held up a hand to stop Sicco.

“Just… bring me the plans and put the devices in place.  You are dismissed.”

Sicco quickly hurried to the door, but paused at the threshold. His face somber he turned back towards the High Tinker, “Gelbin.  I know this was hard for you.  It’s the best thing for Gnomeregan.  We are going to save a lot of lives.”  Mekkatorque kept his back towards him.

Thermaplugg stepped out of the room. Once he heard the door close, his face pinched in to an insidious smile as he hurried down the hall. He had done it. Despite always being one step behind Mekkatorque, he was finally going to get his way.

Faceoff

Why Wait? Mekkatorque in Heroes of the Storm

We know that Blizzard has planned to put Mekkatorque in Heroes of the Storm for a long time (Since 2011 at least) so why wait?  My first thought was that they wanted to wait until the HotS meta was in a certain place for some reason.

But does it make sense to hold a hero until either a counter hero, or until a certain map has been released first?  Any new hero that is added needs to function on all the existing maps without breaking them, and will need to be countered by multiple heroes that already exist.

It could be they are waiting for Mekkatorque to do something in World of Warcraft.  We’ve seen Mekkatorque in his new battle suit.  I wonder if he has some kind of upcoming scene where they will show him doing things that they want to bring in to HotS, but they don’t want to spoil what’s going to happen for World of Warcraft players.  Admittedly, that’s a reach, and might be 100% wishful thinking, but the idea of it makes me excited for BOTH games.

Maybe they want to make him a multi-class character, but that he got too complicated.  Now they are watching how Varian does.  Working kinks out of the multi-class concept with a straight forward character before trying a more complicated one.  As a bonus, they get to test the waters for how multi-class characters are received, and get us the player familiar with the basics of how the system work before adding a layer of complexity on top of it.

Of course, this is all assuming that Mekkatorque hasn’t been scrapped in favor of Chromie.  I highly suspect that the HotS team would like a character that represents each race and class from WoW and that Chromie ticks the ‘gnome’ box.  Datamining had shown Mekkatorque with a ‘tar barrel’ attack that might have turned in to Chromie’s Slowing Sands.  Chromie also has the Gnomeregan score as her theme music instead of the Caverns of Time music.  Doesn’t leave a lot for future gnomes.

The worst part is I can’t just say “we’ll see” because if Mekkatorque is never released, we could speculate forever.  On top of that he could get scrapped, and then picked back up later for a completely different concept.  HotS is so random I am completely unable to guess what character might be coming next.

Inferred Gnome Lore from Warcraft 2 Tinfoil Hat

Because gnome lore in World of Warcraft is… light.  There is a lot of room for head canon.  When coming up with my head canon I try to look back at what is there and infer as much as possible for the source material before I start creating things from whole cloth.  What can be inferred about gnomes from Warcraft 2 lore and game mechanics?

THumanInventorhere are two gnome units and one gnome building in Warcraft 2, the Gnomish Flying Machine, the Gnomish Submarine and the Gnomish Inventor.  The first to become available is the Gnomish Flying Machine.  It’s built at the Gnomish Inventor building. The submarine is built at the shipyard, just like all Alliance boats, but requires the Gnomish Inventor to be present.

WFlyhen World of Warcraft launched in 2004 there were really only 2 gnome characters of any note, Mekkatorque and Thermaplugg.  It’s suggested in the lore that Mekkatorque has been High Tinker since before the Second War. Therefore I feel like it’s safe to assume that he lead the gnomish forces in that conflict, making Gelbin Mekkatorque THE Gnomish Inventor.

WHumanFlyinge see in concept art for Heroes of the Storm that Mekkatorque is a pilot of a Gnomish Flying machine.  This makes sense, his most famous inventions are forms of transportation, the Mechanostrider and the Deeprun Tram.  So his role as a pilot would not contradict anything we see him do in game.  It is further supported more by the suit of power armor he pilots on the Broken Shore in Legion.  Mekkatorque seems as comfortable behind a control panel as he does with a melee weapon.

IWC2HumanSubmarinef we assume that Mekkatorque lead the Gnomish Air Force during the Second war, I think it’s safe to assume that Thermaplugg was Admiral of the Gnomish Navy.  Thermaplugg would not have been on the same level as Mekkatorque. He would have been under the command of Grand Admiral Proudmoore from Kil Tiras.  The lore descriptions of how the subs were used in Warcraft 2 imply that the gnome submarines were under Proudmoore’s command.

I would love to see a remastered Warcraft 2 RTS that featured Mekkatorque as a hero Flying Machine unit, and Thermaplugg as a hero Submarine unit.

IHumanGryphonf we look further at the game mechanics to give lore hints, we find something else.  There are two dwarven units in the game too.  The Gryphon Rider, which is a Wildhammer dwarf, and the Demolishion Squad, from underground Kaz’Modan.  The thing is, the Dwarves of Ironforge are the second unit you get from the Gnomish Inventor.

IDwarfdemo think that while the Wildhammers were going all in with the Alliance Forces, Ironforge was holding back, and the Ironforge dwarves that did participate were under the command of Mekkatorque.

WHumanAviaryildhammers are said in the lore to be separate and distrusting of the other dwarves.  They even have their own building for their unit.  But the Ironforge dwarves come from the Gnomish Inventor.  It supports the idea of the strained relationship between Wildhammers and Bronzebeards.

If Ironforge feels about the same way towards Wildhammers as Wildhammers feel about them.  I could see Magni not wanting to commit to the Alliance fully because the Wildhammers were featuring such a predominate role in it’s formation.  Is it really a stretch to think that Magni would want to keep the Wildhammers, and by extension the Alliance, at arms length?  Here is this large organization forming, that includes both friendly trading partners and old rivals.  He can’t snub them by refusing to join, and the threat too Azeroth as a whole is large to be ignored.  So rather than put Ironforge dwarves at risk of having to take orders from Wildhammers, he asks Mekkatorque to take the role leading Ironforge and Gnomeregan’s combined forces.  That way he can send aids to his allies, and defend Azeroth, without having to buddy up to the Wildhammers.

All that political and military entanglement of Ironforge and Gnomeregan could lead to Gnomeregan catching the attention of the Dark Irons… but that’s a path we can go down later.

I have not had a chance to read Chronicles Volume 2 yet, but from what I have heard there is not a lot of development of either Gnomeregan or Ironforge from the Warcraft 2 era.  I really wish that some distance would be put between the Gnomes and Dwarves in Warcraft.  They can be friends with being shoehorned in to the same niche in the lore.  At this point they remain inexorably tied to one another.  I hope that they will continue to work on making each more unique by diversifying their kits in different directions.

What CLASS is Mekkatorque

What class is Mekkatorque?

First I am going to assume he is a class that players can be (and therefore, not a Tinker).  Two things narrow down the class list right away. Clearly Mekkatorque wears plate, and his eyes do not glow blue, which leaves us with Warrior and Paladin.

Mekkatorque fights with a one handed mace, and shield.  That fact would seem to run counter to Arms and Fury Warriors, and Holy and Retribution Paladins.

So he must protection spec’ed, either as a Warrior or Paladin.

Player gnomes can not be paladins, but NPCs seem to be able to skirt class restrictions.  Lets call the fact that PC gnomes can’t be Paladins +1 for Warrior, and -1 for Paladin.

The Freethinker’s Plate Gelbin wears, and mace he wields give a bonus’ to intellect.  In fact most armor from engineering or with armors that features moving gears on it gives intellect, like the Timepiece of the Bronze Flight. That’s +1 for Paladin.  In addition to that maces are a part of the paladin kit.  Gnomeregan has an ‘official’ sword in the Gnomeregan Bone Chopper.  Many gnome NPC’s in New Tinkertown use it, but not Mekkatorque, +1/2 for paladin.

Mekkatorque also shoots lasers!  Mekkatorque Ray is a beam of light that he shoots at Crushcog.  The visual on Mekkatorque Missile is also a large flash of light.  His third non-melee attack is a Goblin Dragon Gun, which come from engineering and not a class. Light based attacks +1 paladin.

Mekkatorque is always jolly.  He laughs a lot! We never see any RAGE from him. -1 Warrior.

That brings the score to Warrior 0, Paladin 1.5

But math is boring and non-descriptiveness, so lets look at Mekkatorque’s story and see what we can find.  My theory is that Mekkatorque has been either a Warrior or Tinker since the launch of the game.  It fit with the gnome kit at the time, and there was not a lot of development for gnomes in Vanilla beyond The Grand Betrayal.

Then the Lich King invaded (Patch 3.0), and scourge zombies were roaming the streets of every major city on Azeroth.  And in our fight against them, gnomes get this quest: http://wow.gamepedia.com/Quest:Ironforge_(gnome)Mekkatorque_old_model

You receive an artifact of great power from a Naaru that you bring to Mekkatoque.  Mekkatorque takes the concentrated light from you to make an artifact to destroy the undead.  This is very similar to how the Ashbringer was made by Magni Bronzebeard.  Magni was not a paladin, but he also did not use the Ashbringer, he gave it to a Paladin.

But does Gelbin give what he has created to the player to wield? No. He KEEPS it. I think that Gelbin Mekkatorque when presented with the raw power of Light directly from a Naaru, took that power and he kept it, used it create the mace he now carries (Which has a light bulb on top) and began transitioning to be a Paladin.  It is at the END of the Lich King expansion (Patch 3.3) that Gelbin puts on his full set of Intellect plate and start wielding this new weapon.

My conclusion is that Gelbin Mekkatorque did not start as a Paladin, but that he is one now, and he is waiting until he is comfortable in his master of these powers before he begins to teach other gnomes this new discipline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Legion of Gnomes!

Mekkatorque has upgraded his battle suit.  I have upgraded MY battle suit.  Sentient mechanical animals have crosses a threshold. Gnomes have taken up firearms in record numbers.

The Legion seems to have brought out the MOST in the Gnomes of Azeroth.  Is this increase of activity a fluke, or the start of something even bigger?  How much longer can this arms race continue before we finally see a end to the Gnomish civil war?

meckupgrades

Gnomeregan/PokemonGo

((Because: Pokemon Go))GnomeDruid

I wanna be the High Tinker,
Like no gnome ever was.
To get elected is my real test,
To rule them is my cause!

I will travel when elected,
Preaching far and wide
How Gnomeregan been neglected
And will not be cast aside!

Gnomeregan (gotta rule it all) It’s up to me
I know I’m the best you see
Gnomeregan, betrayed by my best friend
And now I need a plan

Gnomregan (Gotta rule it all) jealously will stew
Do you know what I’ll do to you?
You burned me, now I’ll burn you!
Gnome-re-gon

Gotta rule it all

GNOMEREGAN!