Friday, November 5, 2010

Home Sweet Ashenvale

This week's Blog Azeroth shared topic asks us about our in game home.

What does 'home' mean in your book? Do you have a particular home in Azeroth - a place you feel you belong, that you know like the back of your hand, or that you feel more comfortable in than anywhere else? Would this be different for different characters or different factions, or is there just a place that really resonates with you? Do you think Cataclysm will prompt you to find new and different turf, or will you be heading back there first thing to see what might have changed? If it is destroyed, how do you think that will affect your experience of the game, or your characters' lives? Or do you think the whole idea of having a home doesn't even really apply to a game?

As the question goes, it's fairly broad. There are many things that can be considered home about Azeroth. The first aspect that comes to my mind is about my characters and their backgrounds. Surprisingly, out of all of my high level characters, only one of them has a significant link to her home, and that is Elionene, my main. Of the others, most are displaced such as the Draenei, Bogdan, and Khristin. And Salthier has given up his idea of home and become an ambassador of sorts to the humans of the Eastern Kingdom. He could call the Night Elf lands his home, but he travels so much, it's not really a concern to him. (Caution: Minor Cataclysm spoilers ahead, if you're trying to remain ignorant of everything that is about to happen.)

But Elionene is different. She was born and raised in the forest of Ashenvale, and it will forever be a place of peace and restoration to her. It's where her fondest memories of her family are. It's where she learned the skills to be a hunter, and it is the heart of the Night Elven lands where many of her faithful pets come from. When she needs to get away from the battles in Northrend, the tumultuous nature of Outland, or the constant presence of people in Azeroth, she can find a secluded area of Ashenvale and find a refuge unlike any other.

Little does she know the Cataclysm is going to take this home away from her. When Deathwing makes his debut, Ashenvale will erupt. Literally. A volcano will appear in the middle of the land. The orcs of the Horde will take advantage of this turmoil and take more land from the Night Elves in Ashenvale, cutting down the trees for their barracks and fortresses. The Night Elves will be pushed back to Astranaar and be constantly berated by scouting parties from the East and the West. Ashenvale will no longer be the refuge it once was for Elionene and others like her.

How will this affect her? I can see it hardening her a little bit. It will further antagonize her towards the Horde. She's already distrustful. This act may very well make her hostile. It certainly gives her motivation to lead a charge against Deathwing, and the Elemental Lords who will be ravaging the land. Luckily for her, she has a band of adventurers and friends willing to fight along side of her to protect the world they hold so dear, and the people in it.

Personally speaking, when I think of home in Warcraft, I also think of the Night Elven lands. More specifically the atmosphere and music of Teldrassil and Darkshore. Whenever I find myself in those areas with any character and the music starts to play, it immediately takes me back to when I first rolled Elionene and played through the Starter zones. And then when my wife and I rolled Salthier and Lal to play through those same areas, it just intensified the feeling that this is where it all began. This is where my roots in the game are. It's kind of like remembering when you first played the original Super Mario Brothers, or why geeks like me get all nostalgic for games like Centipede, Dig Dug, and Pac-Man. It brings back a time when things were simpler, and you were just learning how to do everything. It was all new and wonderful.

After thinking about the topic for awhile, I'm encouraged to work on the concept of home for some of my other existing characters, and especially for some characters I expect to roll in the near future. What will my Worgen consider home? What about the Gnomes as they attempt to take back what many of them consider their home? Home is an important concept, and I think the Cataclysm expansion is an ideal place to focus on what it means for us and our characters.

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