Monday, September 29, 2008

Raid Weekend

Sunday night, Veritas took on Magtheridon with some help from members of other guilds. It was a lot of people's first time in a 25 person raid, and because of that it was somewhat chaotic. But only a little. Our very own Goradan, a Feral Druid, took the reins of the beast and got everybody into position.

I was assigned a cube to click, to aboid Mag's blast nova. Which is pretty much a raid wiper as we found out. Our first wipe was due to not banishing Magtheridon during that attack. We tried again and figured it out, but then we had problems getting bounced around and missed a blast nova again. After that, we had it going pretty well, but then the main tank died and Mag went hog wild on everybody. So we'd been there awhile and decided the fifth time would be our last time, as the trash mobs were going to respawn and it was getting late. Boy did we make it count. Flawless victory. I was so happy that we managed to kill him, and not end the night on a bad note.

As crazy as 25 person raiding is, it was fulfilling to end it well. You find yourself telling yourself you can't believe that you pulled it off. I agree with a friend of mine that the ten person raids are more fun, in that it's less stress, and there's more time to get to know people and goof around and have fun. The 25 person raids are intense, but the accomplishment is still wonderful. We're looking to take down Gruul in the near future, and we are also partnering with some guilds to do Tempest Keep and Serpent Shrine Cavern in the near future. I guess we're trying to get it all in before the expansion hits and these places become ghost towns.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Role Play and the Guild

So I came to WoW from a text MUD. You may have heard of it. It's called Achaea. In Achaea everything is "in character," or IC. Nothing is ever said "out of character," or OOC. If you were to talk OOC, you would be called "insane" and talked to and possibly kicked out of the game. It was very much centered on role playing.

WoW is not anywhere near that strict, not even on the role play servers. It's pretty much policed by the players, and with the number of people in this world, it's impossible to have everyone always acting in character. But as a whole, I think our realm, Moon Guard, does a fine job of keeping things in the appropriate places.

Veritas, our guild, has the guild channel as an in character channel. We quantify this by saying we each carry a magical communication stone. A walkie talkie of sorts. To allow for other needs, we maintain an OOC chat channel to communicate with and help understand things in a more practical sense. The IC guild channel is a good idea because it allows us to role play more often than we would without it. Most of the time it's just hello or goodbye. The more creative will use it to request friends for dungeons or events.

It is discouraged to use the guild channel for personal role play stories and conversations. Basically, you shouldn't be forcing the whole guild to role play your characters situations by hogging the guild channel. Still, sometimes people use it in an interesting way to spark in person RP. Such as the time someone made garbled noises and and the sound of the stone dropping. Several people rushed to the last known location of that person, the plague lands, to see if they were okay.

As far as I'm concerned, anything and everything said with /say should be in character. If it were a real world, this would be plain talking, and ooc chatter has no place there. Whispers should probably be in character too, although surrounded by (()) brackets to indicate ooc talk seems to be acceptable. I tend to keep /party and /raid as ooc channels for the simple fact that I use those to communicate instructions to the instance and raid members. And figuring out how to do that in character is cumbersome.

I think I really need to work on my role play. I probably spend more time talking on ooc lines than I do ic lines, and it really wouldn't take much effort to do better on that.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lessons in Lore - Malygos, The Spellweaver

Malygos is the Dragon Aspect of Magic, and the leader of the Blue Dragonflight. At the beginnings of the world, the Titans left the dragon aspects in charge of affairs on Azeroth. Alexstrasza, the life giver, of the red dragonflight. Ysera, she of dreaming, for the green dragonflight, who we talked about before in reference to the Emerald Dream. Nozdormu, leader of the Bronze dragonflight, keepers of time, and the ones in charge of the Caverns of Time. And lastly, Neltharion, the earth warder, master of the Black Dragonflight, who corrupted, is today known as Deathwing.

Back in the day, before the war of the ancients and the fall of Neltharion, Malygos and his blue dragonflight were most intent on the uses of, the science of, and the art of magic. They were the most knowledgeable of the flights. Neltharion and Malygos were very close, as like to each other as brothers. This made it all the worse for Malygos when Neltharion betrayed them. Neltharion created the Dragon Soul, perhaps influenced by the Old Gods, and sought to bring the whole of the dragonflight under his power. Malygos was tricked into believe in the Dragon Soul was beneficial, and helped to convince all of the other dragons to join in giving power to the Dragon Soul. Instead, it gave Neltharion, now Deathwing power beyond power.

Deathwing proceeded to attack the dragonflights, nearly eradicating the entire host of Blue dragons. Malygos, retreated to his abode in Northrend, rendered mad by the loss of his fight and the betrayal of the Earth Warder. It would be many years before he was heard from again. The dragonflight was eventually able to free them from Deathwing's control, but the Dragon Soul, now called the Demon soul, ended up in the hands of the Dragonmaw orcs, who used it to capture and enslave the red dragonflight. The tale of their internment at Grim Batol is told in The Day of the Dragon by Richard Knaack. Krasus, of the red Dragonflight seeks the aid of Malygos to free the Red dragonflight. Malygos is at first reluctant, still mad with his loss. Krasus is eventually able to convince him to help by explaining how Deathwing is still at large, and was not completely defeated during the War of the Ancients. In the end, Alexstraza is freed along with the rest of the red dragonflight and pledges to assist the humans in their time of need for their part in rescuing her from the orcs.

The reason that this is important now is that we will be able to see Malygos at work in Northrend. It seems he has finally awoken from his madness, but he has seen what has become of the world over the last 10,000 years and is displeased. The humans are using arcane magic in greater amounts, and he fears that they will draw the burning legion to the world much like the High Elves did in Azshara many years ago, at the time Malygos lost his sanity. So he decides the best thing to do is wage a war against the humans, and especially against the wizards of the Kirin Tor. In response, the Kirin Tor move Dalaran to fight a double war against the Lich King, and against the Blue Dragonflight.

I'm actually a little upset by this development. First of all, I find it confusing that Malygos, who is one of the oldest and wisest of the dragon aspects, thinks that war with the Kirin Tor is a good option. For one thing, we've already beat down the Burning Legion in Outland and at the Sunwell. It's not like all the magic use is going to really cause them to be any more of a threat. On top of that, he's supposed to be coming OUT of his madness, but it seems like he's just jumping into a new madness, as the actions he is taking now have repercussions beyond just a typical war, such as the harnessing of ley lines and the effect that has on the world. So Malygos, who should know better, is creating new problems by trying to war against a single problem. On top of this, because of her oath to the humans, Alexstraza and the red dragonflight are helping the Kirin Tor fight against Malygos. I don't see how this can end well.

Malygos will be a raid boss in Northrend, similar to the Onyxia and Magtheridon now. Will we really be able to kill him? Is that the only way to handle the situation? And what will the repercussions of killing a dragon aspect be? I am at least looking forward to how these questions will be answered. And I'm thrilled that we'll be able to participate in these raids and the lore with 10 people.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Game Mechanics - Favorite Addons

((I apologize for the lack of links. Later I'll update the post with links to each of the add-ons and some screenshots of my UI))

I use a lot of add-ons. A lot of them I forget I have and take for granted things they do. Like Prat 2.0 which is a chat box addon that lets me do a lot of things with my chat window that I take for granted, like link items in created channels, and scroll up and down with my mouse wheel. Speaking of linking items, I have one called Linkerator that allows me to link items by just typing the name in brackets ( [] ), even items that I've never obtained. It keeps track of items that I've seen on the Auction Hall, linked by other people and dropped in dungeons, even when I don't get that item, and items that I see in Cartographer dungeon maps with Atlas Loot.

Oh hey, there are two more great add-ons. Cartographer replaces your regular map with a customizable map you can change the size and transparency of, and make notes and markings on it. It also contains maps of Dungeons which is nice because the default map does not. Blizzard should really think about adding that themselves. Atlas lists loot for all of the dungeons and raids so you can see in game what might drop from that next boss.

Another one that is commonly used is Auctioneer which keeps track of the current market for items on the auction hall. I use this one on Frelon mostly since he's my bank alt now. He keeps track of the scans and puts all of my stuff up for auction that I need to sell with accurate pricing.

Recently I've been experimenting with Bartender3 and Ag UnitFrames. Using Bartender I got rid of the default action bars and replaced them with smaller bars all at the bottom of my screen. I did this for both Elionene and Salthier. I used the unit frames to put Salthier's frame and the target frame down near where the character is on the screen so I could keep better track of my health when tanking. So far it's been okay, but my main purpose was to make more of the screen for viewing the world, and less of it for the buttons and frames. I don't know that this saved me any space, so I may go back to the default soon. Honestly, what I could really use is a bigger screen. I'm currently using a little 13 inch macbook pro, and a bigger screen would give me lots more space to work with.

A wonderful add on, especially for Druids or any class with multiple gear sets, is the Outfitter add on. It basically let's you create an outfit and save it. Then you can switch to that outfit with a couple clicks or a button push, making changing clothes a breeze. It's even set to change automatically based on a setting. For instance, it will automatically put my tank gear on in bear form, and my dps gear when I switch to cat. Smooth. I don't know how I would function without it as a druid.

And then there's Titan Bar. I think this was my first add on. I really like having my bag space, ammo count, gold, experience numbers and latency information available at a quick glance on the bar. It also let's me adjust UI and Sound options at the click of a button. This is the first one I plan to update with the oncoming patch.

Of course, with Wrath looming on the not so far away horizon, add ons are quaking with fear. With any big patch, it usually takes a few days for the add on developers to update the code of the add on for the new patch. I can only imagine it's more so with a big patch like an expansion. Hopefully, a lot of the bugs can be worked out with the 3.0.1 update, and then when we actually install the expansion pack, it shouldn't be a big deal.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Brewfest is upon us! The dwarves know how to throw a party, and a party is what they're having at the base of the mountain in Ironforge. Lal and Salthier have been enjoying the festivities, throwing mugs of ale at Dark Iron Dwarves, racing rams, and venturing into Blackfathom Deeps to dispose of the worst of the evil dwarves, Coren Direbrew.

Ah, Coren. He's managed to drop a lot of loot for us. I'm lamenting the fact that I bought the equivalent 41 badge trinket on Elionene the day before Brewfest started, but I decided to make the best of it, and now I'm rocking both the Bloodlust Brooch, and the Empty Mug of Direbrew. I'm thrilled that he's easier than Ahune from the fire festival was. I mean, I like a challenge, but I never killed Ahune after many many tries, and let's be honest. It's so much more fun to beat a boss and take his loot over and over, hoping for that one drop, than to never be able to kill the boss. Lal got both the healing and the spell damage trinkets. She also picked up a Direbrew Remote and the Brewfest Ram, of which that's the only one I've seen drop. I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot of Coren over the next week or so.

Tonight, the Karazhan group from Friday is going into the tower again to try and finish up what we didn't get to, and we didn't get to a lot. I can chalk that up to four failed attempts on Nightbane. I really wish I could figure out what our problem was, but we were struggling. We had to call it after Curator, so we've got a fair amount of dungeon to do tonight. Aran, Illhoof, Chess, and Prince are on the docket, with an attempt on Netherspite I hope. And depending on how the group feels, we may go back to kill Nightbane as well. I have a couple quests that involve taking him out!

I'm still staying fairly expansion information free. And the big news of the week is that my office has disallowed any internet access to websites about video games, which means no WoWhead, no WoWwiki, no warcraft forums. Looks like I'll need to find time at home to link items and post pictures. But for now I still have access to my blog, and yeah, maybe I shouldn't be posting while at work anyway.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Lessons in Lore - Alexandros Mograine, The Ashbringer

Whew, guess being sick has thrown my whole week off! I didn't post on Lore Thursday! I'll have to rectify that since I love writing about the lore, so here's a lore post for you.

Just this last week I picked up the first of a four part comic mini-series on The Ashbringer. The comics are published by Wildstorm comics, which are part of DC, and the same people that do the other warcraft comic that are on issue 12 now I think about the return of King Wrynn to Stormwind. That is also a very good series, and it's leading up to the release of Wrath with its events. But that's not what this post is about. This post is about Alexandros Mograine.

Most of you are probably thinking, "Oh yeah, I know Mograine. I kicked his sorry butt way back in Scarlet Monastery, along with that Whitemane lady." Well, yes, and no. That was High Commander Mograine, but not Alexandros Mograine. Let me explain.

Alexandros Mograine was a Knight of the Silver Hand, a Paladin led by Uther Lightbringer, a widower, and father of two young boys. During the assault on Blackrock Spire in the second war, he came across an Orc Warlock in the possession of a black orb of power. They killed the warlock, and he tried to take the orb, but when he tried to pick it up, it disfigured his hand. Still, he managed to collect the orb and held on to it in hope that its dark power could be turned for good.

Some time later he called a group of knights and paladins together in Southshore at the inn. They looked at the orb and using their powers of light were indeed able to form it into a light giving artifact of power. What is cool about this is that you can watch these events unfold in game. Go to the Caverns of Time, Old Hillsbrad instance, and head to the Southshore inn. There you will see Mograine and his friends working on the orb. You can also see Mograine's son, Renault hanging out with Sally Whitemane. Cute.

So now they have this orb of power. What to do with it? Oh, I know! Let's turn it into a sword. So Alexandros and his friend Fairbanks go off to Ironforge where they have King Magni Bronzebeard forge the greatest sword he as ever created. Now keep in mind, that while all of this is going on, the Scourge is on the move, and Lordaeron is falling to the treachery of Prince Arthas, who has taken up the cursed blade Frostmourne and killed his father. The Knights of the Silver Hand, of which Arthas was apart of, had been disbanded upon the death of Uther Lightbringer. So Mograine's idea is to use this sword to fight the scourge and take back what they have corrupted.

Upon returning to his home, he finds a note that his sons and friends have taken refuge in Hearthglen, which is now in the Western Plaguelands. He and Fairbanks go to meet them, and have to deal with the scourge on the way. The new sword is so effective and reducing the undead to dust, that Mograine calls it The Ashbringer. In time, the blade and the man will become known by that same name. Alexandros Mograine IS the Ashbringer.

So with Stratholme and Andorhal burning, and the scourge on a rampage, Alexandros Mograine helps to form the Scarlet Crusade. Now older his two sons become knights of the Scarlet Crusade as well. Renault is the older son, and Darion the younger. Darion was born still, but revived when his father immersed him the cold waters of a nearby river. However it was in that birth that Mograine's wife died. This led to Darion being the favored son of Alexandros, as Darion reminded Alexandros of his wife. This was not unnoticed by Renault.

On an expedition into Stratholme to fight the scourge, one of the old commanders, Dathrohan, was possessed by Balnazzar. One of the Dreadlords of the Legion. Through Dathrohan, the Legion now had a foothold in the Scarlet Crusade to fight back against Arthas, the Lich King, and the new forsaken that had taken power in Lordaeron. To do this though, he would have to get rid of Mograine. And to do that, he would corrupt his son, Renault.

Renault became a knight of the crusade, encouraged by Dathrohan/Balnazzar. Eventually he was given a mission. He led his father and Fairbanks to Stratholme where they were swarmed by undead. Renault fled, and Fairbanks was buried alive under a pile of corpses. With the power of the Ashbringer, Alexandros was able to defeat all of the undead that had swarmed them, but was much weakened at the end of it. Renault returned, and using the Ashbringer, dropped by Alexandros, killed his own father, corrupting the blade. Renault was promoted to High Commander, and sent to the Scarlet Monastery to lead the crusade from there. That is the Mograine that we encounter when we go the Scarlet Cathedral. Along with is old friend, Sally Whitemane. Cute.

But the story doesn't end there. The elder Mograine is raised by Kel'thuzzad as a Death Knight and place in service of the Lich King. He is currently one of the four horsemen bosses in Naxxramas. Adventurers, who are able to destroy the death knight of Mograine, can pick up the corrupted Ashbringer. If the blade is then taken to the Scarlet Monastery, an event takes place in which the spirit of Alexandros Mograine, still attached to the cursed sword, lashes out and kills his own son, in revenge for all that has happened. I haven't had a chance to see this, as it involves a raid on Naxxramas. And soon it seems none of us will because Naxx is moving to Northrend.

But in return we get something else. I've tried to avoid spoilers on most aspects of the new expansion, but one of the things I did come across is that this story line will continue that involves Mograine and his sons, specifically his younger son Darion. To see this new content, you will need to start a Death Knight and take part in the many quests and watch as the story unfolds. I'm looking forward to doing that when I get the expansion. I probably won't level a Death Knight any time soon, but I am very eager to do the starting experience and watch as the story of Mograine, The Asbringer, is completed.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Speaking of New Mounts

Hello, and sorry for being absent. I was out sick this weekend! Woohoo! Well, not so much, but I did get to play a little bit more than usual. In that little bit more I managed to grind Kurenai rep to exalted and get Elionene her Cobalt Riding Talbuk!

Lal and Elionene went to Zul'aman last night. Sadly we could not repeat our Nalorakk kill, and ended up having to reset the fight so many times that the trash came back, and Nalorakk went down to join them. Oddly enough, we could not reset the fight. He just kind of stood there and did nothing, no matter how much we taunted him or ran around in circles. We gave up and went to kill the eagle boss which we did! We tried again to get Nalorakk to fight us, but he still ignored us, so we said, "hey, if you can't beat them, join them!" and we all took positions around Nalorakk to fight off any adventurers who thought they could beat us for our treasures!

Not much else on the character front I think. The other big news in the WoW world is that Wrath is officially set to release on 11/13/08. I have mine pre-ordered. Do you?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Lich King

Yes, the Lich King. He's the focal point of the upcoming expansion, and he was an undeniable focus of the lore leading up to World of Warcraft. But who is he? Why is he? And what does he really want? Why have we not heard anything from him recently, other than the undead that roam the plague lands? Let's start at the beginning.

Back on Draenor, about 70 so years ago, the orcs lived peacefully with the Draenei. The orcs were a shamanistic clan society who met yearly for festivals with the other clans. Each clan had a lead shaman, but the head of all shaman was Ner'zhul. It was Ner'zhul that was deceived by Kil'jaeden into thinking the Draenei were a threat and must be eliminated, so Ner'zhul started teaching the shaman to be warlocks, and things went down hill from there. However, before the Draenei were completely wiped out, Ner'zhul realized the deception, but it was too late. His apprentice, Gul'dan, was all too eager to please Kil'jaeden, and took over in leading the orcs to nearly wipe out the Draenei and build a portal to Azeroth, where they would continue their reign of terror. Ner'zhul was not killed after refusing to help Kil'jaeden anymore. He was kept around, and closely watched by Gul'dan.

Eventually, the orcs destroyed Shattrath. A few Draenei were able to hide out in Zangarmarsh with Velen, and the orcs concentrated on building their citadel and portal on the Hellfire Peninsula. Blackhand and Gul'dan organized all of this and then lead the orcish horde through the portal to Azeroth. Ner'zhul stayed behind at the Black Temple. During the second war, the portal was destroyed from the Azeroth side, and the resulting explosion on the other side injured Ner'zhul, who retreated with his clan to the Shadowmoon Valley. The clans fell to fighting each other and were in disarray. Eventually Ner'zhul was roused by Teron Gorefiend, who had discovered how to create other portals. Ner'zhul, using items that were obtained for him from Azeroth began to seek the power of these portals. One of the items he had recovered was the skull of Gul'dan and the evil forces of now dead apprentice affected Ner'zhul. In his madness for power, he ordered members of the horde into the unstable portal. It was through this recklessness, and the resulting distortions from the many portals opened, that Draenor was destroyed and became Outland.

As for Ner'zhul, after entering the portal he was captured by Kil'jaeden and tormented endlessly until little of his physical body was left. It seems Kil'jaeden had never forgiven him for going back on his oath on Draenor. After all of this, Ner'zhul agreed to serve Kil'jaeden again. Kil'jaeden took what was left of the spirit of Ner'zhul and put it into a suit of armor which he then incased in ice and placed in Northrend on Azeroth. Ner'zhul ceased, and the Lich King was born, his power magnified many times. The idea was for the Lich King to weaken the masses of Azeroth for the impending entry of the Legion. To make sure he obeyed, Kil'jaeden set several Dreadlords over the Lich King to watch him.

Eventually, the Lich King drew Kel'thuzad to his will and created the Cult of the Damned which spread the plague throughout Lordaeron. Terenis Menethil, the King of Lordaeron sent his son, Arthas, to investigate, which lead Arthas to Northrend. Here the Lich King continued his plan, coaxing Arthas to take up the cursed sword, Frostmourne. Arthas slew Kel'thuzad, but was submitted to the will of the Lich King. Upon returning to Lordaeron, Arthas slew his father, and the city was lost to the Scourge. After that, Arthas summoned back the Kel'thuzad as a Lich so that he could summon Archimonde and the Legion to Azeroth. This happened, but the combined might of the people of Azeroth proved too much, and Archimonde was defeated at Mount Hyjal.

With the Legion defeated, the Lich King was free to reign as he saw fit, and not as a lackey of the Legion, but he feared retaliation, and rightly so. Kil'jaeden found and used Illidan to fight against the Lich King. The Lich King in turn called upon his pawn, Arthas. In the end, Arthas won out, defeating Illidan before the Icecrown Citadel. Illidan fled to Outland, and Arthas ascended the mountain where he broke the frozen thrown and put on the armor of the Lich King, becoming once with the spirit that had once been Ner'zhul.

This is where things were when WoW began. The Lich King was newly bound to the man that had been Arthas. He still controlled the undead scourge that was ravaging Azeroth, but his power was diminished, and he now had the forsaken, a rebellious faction of the scourge led by Sylvanas Windrunner, to contend with as well. The people of the world were dealing with the black dragon flight and the many different troll threats, as well as the silithid of the old gods. With the opening of the portal, the Burning Legion was once again the first and foremost foe. The adventurers of Azeroth poured into Outland to relinquish control of that land from Illidan and the Burning Legion. Now with Kil'jaeden being forcefully kept out of this world, the Lich King has decided it is time to make his move.

We don't know what will happen, but something will cause us to turn our eyes to Northrend and recognized the threat that is the Lich King. And that he still hungers for power and control, and the destruction of all life.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Of Elves and Horses

It seems I'm finding it hard to write on Tuesdays since I don't have nearly as many interesting things to write about macros and addons as I do other things like lore and character development. It's not that there aren't macros and addons to write about, it's just I don't tend to think they're that exciting. I've got an idea for next week, but if I ever have trouble finding something to write about on a Tuesday maybe I'll substitute a light lore post instead.

In other news, Salthier achieved exalted status with Stormwind this last week, enabling me to get a Swift Brown Steed! This completes my goal of having him as an ambassador to Stormwind. It took a lot, and I mean a LOT, of rune cloth. Between Lal and I, we had about 700 pieces in our alt guild bank, and I bought about another 60 gold worth from the auction hall. I did do some of the quests in the starter areas, but I decided soon after that that I would prefer to spend gold rather than time working on the reputation. It all worked out in the end. Now I might look into getting exalted with all of the major cities to achieve the ambassador title that is coming with the expansion. While milling around Elwynn forest, I picked up a pet cat from the crazy cat lady, just so I could get a picture like this one.

Bogdan and Nadya didn't see much play this last week. I have a cool picture of them meeting the fire elemental on Azuremyst when Bogdan did his fire totem quest. I keep saying every week that I hope we play them more, and that's still true. The more I think about it, the more I really want to level my shaman up before the expansion comes out. I just have to convince Lal to want to play her mage! In a related note, we went to our local gamestop and pre-ordered two copies of Wrath of the Lich King. We're psyched.

Elionene got to go to Zul'aman last night, and we had a blast! We got the first two bosses down and almost made it to the third one before time, repairs, and respawns forced us to call the raid. Next week, Lal will be going, and we plan on taking down boss number 3 as well as hopefully getting one of the timed chests. It's a challenge, but we all really love it! There's talk of doing a two boss only run on Saturday for anyone who wants to go, since it resets every 3 days. I'd love to get in on this, but I'm not sure if we'll have the power to do it, unless everyone from last night wants to go again, but I don't think that's the case.

I'll leave you with this picture of Salthier, dead in Shadow Labyrinth. Before the third boss, Vorpil, is a room with patrolling mobs in the middle and mounds of skeletons on the sides. The skeletons can be pulled and AoE killed. I told my group that we'd be pulling the last two groups of skeletons together instead of seperately. Famous last words as we did kill them, but I bit it.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Heading to Zul'aman

Tomorrow I get to go with our first guild only raid on Zul'aman. We're hoping to see the first two bosses although I'll be just as happy if we are able to only down the first boss. Everything we've read says that the place can be really tough, and most of us that are going are just hitting the recommended minimums. The guild is modeled after and adventurers group of the likes of Indiana Jones and the like, so this raid really fits our guild motif. It's taken some time, but we're ready to go!

I'm also going to be taking over as one of the main raid leaders for our two Karazhan groups. This is exciting for me because I love Kara. I've enjoyed the weekly dungeon runs I've lead, and now this is like a step up from that. It was a request from the guild leaders too, so it really makes you feel good when others feel that you have what it takes to step up and be a raid leader. I'm not sure when our first run will be, but I hope to put it up soon so I can start planning based on the people who sign up, which bosses we will try for and who will be doing what.

There was some discussion on the Blog Azeroth forums about casual/hardcore and what that means. I've always considered myself a casual player in that I don't do the weekly 25 person raids. But to be honest, based on the amount of time that Lal and I play, we could probably be considered hardcore players. So I think I agree with some of the people who say there are both casual players that raid, and hardcore players that do not.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Everything that is, is alive.

((I've written several times from Elionene's perspective, and even wrote a short story outlining Salthier's background. They can be read in Elionene's Journal. We played Bogdan and Nadyezhda on Wednesday, and I really found myself enjoying it, but I've yet to come up with his background. For today's role playing story, I'm going to try and write a short history of Bogdan and his path to learning the Shamanistic arts. I'm drawing on the short story, Unbroken, for my setting.))

The sky was overcast, which was not unusual for this time of the season, and especially not in the Zangarmarsh. I had begun my day as usual, scouting the bogs for herbs and ores to supply the town of Telredor with the materials needed. My wife, Nadyezhda, was busily sewing clothes for the children of the village, though we had no children of our own. We were few, but we survived.

Shattrath City had fallen to the orcish horde some time ago. We held in great honor those who sacrificed themselves to keep our escape to the marsh a secret, but other unforeseen events had occurred. Several Draenei survived the attack on our capital, but they were not as they once were. Their bodies had degenerated, and their minds were slow. We called them "Krokul," Broken, and they were not allowed into the cities of the unaffected. The Light had left them.

Years had passed, and we continued to make our living hidden in the marsh. Telredor was a flourishing city now, providing for the majority of our people. The prophet Velen visited often, though he was always on the move, and his location was kept secret so that no one could be forced to speak of his whereabouts if captures. The orcs had built some sort or portal to the east, which now took most of their concentration, leaving us in secluded but relative peace. I returned with full bags to my home, and sat down to prepare them for the market when Nadya approached me with a sense of urgency.

"Bogdan," she hastily said, "It is rumored amongst the villagers that a meeting has been called for tonight."

"That is not unusual," I replied, "There are often meetings to discuss many things. Why is this one of any matter?"

"The Prophet himself is to be here and..." Her voice trailed off a little before she completed her thought, "One of the Krokul."

I shifted on my chair a little. Personally I had not encountered many Krokul. I had seen them while working through the bogs, but they mostly kept to themselves, lost in their small minds. They did not come to Telredor. Nadya was fearful for what this could mean, but I had confidence in Velen's decisions. We would attend the meeting, and see what was so important that we would need to hear it from a Broken.

That evening we gathered with the rest of the town on the central patio, around the fountain. Murmuring ran through the crowd. Why did we need to be addressed by a Krokul? What could they have to say that would be of any importance? Why would Velen sanction this event? Nadya and I sat and waited patiently. Before long, we saw him approach. His skin seemed to large for his frame and sagged in many places, a dullish blue color. His eyes were also dull, and he had tentacles growing in odd places in his body. Several of the townsfolk jeered. They did not want the Broken here in their city. No one had seen the Prophet. The Broken stood up to speak, and raised his staff. He was called Nobundo. He was unable to say much more over the crowd, whose taunts and calling grew louder. Nobundo himself seemed unable to get his words out, despite them. He turned away to leave, his head lowered in despair.

We knew of the Vindicator Nobundo, who had bravely stayed behind in Shattrath to lead the doomed resistance against the orcs. It was even more devastating to hear of his survival and eventual degeneration into a Broken, but there was nothing we could do. Seeing him here, now, I was actually interested in what he could possible have to say to us. I was saddened that the majority of our people could not withstand the outcast for long enough to at least hear him speak. I turned to look at Nadya and she returned my gaze, seeming to know what I was thinking, and nodding in agreement.

It was then that Velen appeared from behind a stairway as if he had been there all along. He did not address us, but turned directly to Nobundo and consulted him privately. The crowd hushed a little but whispers and talking continued. What was he saying to the Broken? After a few moments, Nobundo turned back to the now somewhat subdued crowd. Throwing back his hood, he raised his staff to the sky and the circling clouds began to thunder, and rain began to pour down upon us. Nobundo looked into the eyes of everyone in attendance.

"Everything that is, is alive," he began. And then he told us how the elements had spoken to him. They had cleared his mind and brought new strength to him, even in his broken form. We were skeptical. The orcs who had persecuted us had practiced these shamanistic arts. Nobundo carefully explained how the orcs had abandoned those ways when they took up the dark magic of the Legion and trained their warlocks. The elements now sought new Shaman to commune with and empower. They had come to Nobundo, and he was offering to teach us as the elements had taught him. At first I was suspicious as well, but I had spent much of my life working with the earth through my craftsmanship and I knew that in order to reap the benefit of the earth, it must be respected. We left that meeting with much to think on.

In the time that followed there was to be much change for our people. Beings from another world began to poor in through the portal that the orcs had built. The world was beginning to tear apart at the seams from all of the unstable action perpetrated by the orcs. We feared once more that we would not last, and led by Velen, we escaped from our home once more in a Naaru vessel. Sadly, the vessel had been tampered with by the Blood Elves who had controlled it. The last thing I remember was huddling closely with Nadya as we spun uncontrollably through the twisting nether, our fate unknown.

I awoke to the smell of smoke and emerged into a world unlike any other I had been on. Nadya woke with me, and together we ventured outside. We had been in stasis since the crash, regenerating our health while our brothers and sisters organized our people. Others like us were now just awakening. We were told that we had crashed on the land known as Azeroth, the same world that the orcs had built the Dark Portal to. And here the Burning Legion had also made its mark, and the people of this world were fighting against it. Velen had survived and now led the people from the Exodar, the main section of the ship that we had left Draenor on. Nadya and I made our way to the Exodar to learn from Velen how we could help.

Velen spoke with authority and with gentleness. We were no longer going to run. Bolstered by the help of an alliance of kingdoms, we would join the fight against the Legion and end our flight once and for all. Nadya, who already had a knack for the mystical arts through the weaving of spells of protection and power into her finely stitched clothes, took up training as mage. I had only ever known the life of a craftsman. What could I contribute? Velen saw my contemplation and spoke to me.

"Perhaps there is someone else here who could help you find your path," he said.

Velen led me to the Crystal hall and up the steps to a familiar looking face. Nobundo. He had joined us as we escaped Draenor, hoping that he could help train willing Draenei in his art. As Nobundo looked at me, I felt the strength of the earth fill my bones. This would be my contribution to the fight. I would learn this new craft, how to commune with the elements and beseech their aid in our fight against the enemy who we had suffered so much under. I would become a Shaman.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Lessons in Lore - Hellfire Citadel

Hellfire Citadel is well known to just about everyone upon first entering Outland. It is the base of operations for the Fel Orc hordes, and the first dungeon that players get to enter at level 60. The Citadel was originally built by the orcs before they first entered Azeroth, around the time they were eradicating all traces of the Draenei from the world. The building of the Citadel was orchestrated by Blackhand soon after he had been named the first Warchief of the horde being organized by Gul'dan and the Shadow council. The Citadel was to be a base of operations for the war on the Draenei, and eventually, the war on Azeroth. Here, the orcs devised new weapons and trained new recruits to fight. And it was near here, at the throne of Kil'jaeden, that the orcs drank of the blood of Mannaroth, tainting themselves and dooming their kind to the service of the Burning Legion.

The area was not always dry and dusty as it is now. It was once a thriving land, probably similar to Nagrand. But the orcs turning from the Shamanistic ways to the demonic powers of the Warlock caused the elements to abandon the land, creating the namesake, Hellfire. After the destruction of Shattrath, the orcs found fewer and fewer Draenei to kill, and it was at this time that Gul'dan received a vision about other words to conquer. The construction of the Dark Portal began. Upon completion, the armies of Fel Orcs, tainted with demon blood, marched from Hellfire Citadel to the portal and waged war with Azeroth.

The Citadel was the main staging ground for the orc's ventures into Azeroth until after the second war when the portal was sealed and the world of Draenor was destroyed from the resulting imbalance of the many portals that Ner'zhul had tried to open. Until recently, when the portal was reopened, no one had known what fate had befallen the Citadel.

During the wars, Kargath Bladefist and the orcs of the Shattered Hand clan were left in charge of the Citadel. When the Alliance attacked the Citadel, the orcs were defeated and Kargath was able to escape to Nagrand, but he could not get any reinforcements to retake the Citadel. He bided his time and was eventually rewarded when Magtheridon, a servant of Mannaroth, allowed Kargath and his clan to partake in the blood of Magtheridon, turning them into the red Fel Orcs. With this new power, Kargath was able to retake the Citadel, and he swore alliance to Magtheridon.

Illidan Stormrage, after his defeat by Arthas in Northrend, fled to Outland and took control of the Black Temple. Fearing retaliation from the Burning Legion for his failure to dispose of Arthas and the Lich King, he began building armies. Somehow he was able to over power Magtheridon, a Pit Lord of the Burning Legion, and imprison him beneath Hellfire Citadel. Kargath, probably to avoid being destroyed himself, then swore his loyalty to the new ruler of Outland, Illidan, and was put in charge of overseeing the creation of Fel Orc armies by siphoning blood from his former master within Hellfire Citadel.

When we enter Hellfire Peninsula and begin assaulting the Citadel, we are essentially fighting against Illidan's forces, and eventually killing the imprisoned Magtheridon so that he doesn't get loose and cause total havoc. It's a little bit confusing since both we and Illidan are fighting against The Burning Legion, but Illidan isn't willing, or trusting, of anyone else so we have to fight him off to. This theme seems to be in the game a lot with multiple factions fighting the same enemy, but being unwilling to join together. The Scarlet Crusade and the Argent Dawn all hate the scourge, but they have issues with each other as well. The Aldor and Scryers fight the Legion, but don't get along. The Naaru lead these fractioned groups against the Legion and against Illidan at the same time.

Thanks for reading, and have a good morning!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Salthier and Lal are on the Move

The adventures of Salthier and Lal continued this last week with some major accomplishments. The first and most exciting of which is that Salthier has achieved his Swift Flight Form! I’m an epic item! I can fly fast, and it’s so much fun! Now Lal doesn’t have to wait for me whenever we’re going from one place to the next because we both have our epic flight training and mount/form.

It started with me realizing between the two of us we had worked up enough gold to buy my training. Once we did that, I immediately began the quest chain to get my swift flight form. It was long and I spent nearly all afternoon and a lot of the evening doing it, but I was determined, and with a little help from Lal on the last bird boss, I was able to finish it, and then I just needed to go to Heroic Sethekk Halls and fight Anzu, the Raven god. No big deal. Pumped from getting this far, I enlisted some of the finest fighters in my guild and we tore through the halls with a fury. Before I knew it, I was swooping around Cenarion Refuge in my pretty new bird shape. Woot!

Friday saw Lal and Elionene go into Karazhan and clear 10/11 bosses. We didn’t try for Netherspite, but we had a guild first Nightbane kill! Lal then got the quest chain to summon Nightbane and was able to pick up the first piece for that quest in Heroic Sethekk when we took Salthier to get his flight form. Then on Monday, Elionene and Lal went with some guild mates to heroic Shattered Halls for the daily, and the Trial of the Naaru: Mercy quest. We had a great time, and didn’t have any wipes until we got to Bladefist, who we downed on our third try! We completed all of the quests we went in there for, and now both Lal and Elionene can summon Nightbane. All in all, a very productive weekend.

Add to that, Lal, with the help of others, was able to scrape enough money together to buy the [Pattern: Girdle of Ruination] for her smite set. Several people in the guild also want one made, so she is quite the in demand tailor. I think she likes it.

One last thing to note is that Salthier started his rep grind for Stormwind this weekend. I imagined his character as being sort of an ambassador to Stormwind after the events at Mt. Hyjal, to learn more about the humans, since the Night Elves had been fairly secluded before. My goal is to get him exalted so his mount can be a horse, but I also read that he may be able to get an actual Title in the Lich King expansion so it will really say Ambassador Salthier above his head. I’ll need to get exalted with all of the major city factions for that to happen though. Looks like Sal will be doing quite a bit of cloth turn ins and lower level quests in the starter zones!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

WoW Web Stats

Wow Web Stats has been around for some time now. I'm actually surprised when I mention it to people in my guild or send them a link to a report page, and they are curious how I did it and what addon is needed. Since it seems like it's not as well known as I thought it was, I figured it was a good topic for game mechanics.

Basically WWS is a free service that will take a combat log and parse it, extrapolate the data and spit it back to you in an easy to read format. It does not require an addon, although a combatlog addon can make it easier. More on that in a minute. You will need to sign up for a free account on their site and be able to run the Wow Web Stats client via a Java application. They give easy to understand directions on the web site.

So how does it work? WoW records everything that happens during fights in a combat log. You can have this log recorded to a text file by simply typing /combatlog at any time during the game. This text file will appear in your World of Warcraft file in a subfolder called Logs as wowcombatlog.txt. So when you enter Karazhan (or any instance) just type /combatlog and go about your raid. If you wipe and exit the instance, you will have to type it again when you enter. At the end of the raid, type /combatlog again to turn it off, log out, and go to the Logs folder in your WoW directory. Copy the txt file to the desktop and then go to the WWS website, start their client and upload the txt file. You should see something like this...

That's kind of small, so I don't know if you can read it, but I've used the anonymous report so the names are all different anyway. This chart is for damage done through our Kara raid that went to Aran. By checking the different options you can see damage received, heals, and a host of other statistics. You can see individual results, group results, and also what killed who and when, how long it took to finish, or kill a boss, and a lot of other things. It's a great tool for raid leaders who want to analyze the raid and see what areas they can improve, or it's a lot of fun for people like me who like to play with numbers.

That's WoW Web Stats in a nut shell. You can get an addon such as clsaver which will automatically turn the log on and off when you enter and exit the instance. This is nice, as I often would forget to type /combatlog when I need to. You just have to tell clsaver to log an instance once, and it will remember to do that instance for every future time you run it. Do this by typing /clsaver toggle your first time in the instance.

A couple of things to note. The combat log can be a little finicky at times, probably due to my incompetence. After you upload the log to to WoW Web stats, you should delete the file in your logs folder. If you do not, then the next time you are in an instance, the new log will be added to the end of the old one. This will make the file unreadable for WWS. So the best way to do it is as follows:

Step 1) Run the instance and use /combatlog or an addon to do it automatically.
Step 2) Logout
Step 3) Copy the txt file to the desktop and delete the file in your logs folder.
Step 4) Upload the file from the desktop
Step 5) Check out your awesome DPS or heals or whatever.
Step 6) Log back in and repeat steps 1 through 6 after next instance run.

You can copy the URL of your report and send it to other people to view. You can also make the names anonymous if you want to show people, but don't want to broadcast who in your guild was who, for privacy concerns. You can also set up permissions so that other people can upload reports to your account, such as a guild leader or something.

Thanks for reading, and have a good morning!