This week’s shared topic, suggested by Jaedia, is one I’m rather fond of: exploration. Take a breath, enjoy the scenery, and marvel at the fun twists of fate that assail our characters from continent to continent. Warning: This is an image intensive post.
I had to think about how I wanted to handle this topic. I have several characters tooling around in the lower levels, and some 80’s (or almost 80’s) almost exclusively holed up in Northrend. I decided to follow the travels of Nightfall, my reluctant death knight who refuses to join the battle against Arthas until she has completed Loremaster. As my play-time has been reduced, and solitary activities seem more pleasant than trying to struggle through a grouping of any size, I have been drawn again to Nightfall’s struggles.
By the time you read this on Monday, I should be up to around 1, 000 quests completed, and to be sure, my Super Snapper has been busy!
Populated by ghosts, Wyrmscar Island is located in the upper right of the Bloodmyst Isle. Once the elven city of Loreth’Aran, the black dragonflight destroyed the city, leaving only a few green whelps, the ghost of the elven prince Toreth, and an aspect of Razormaw. A blood curse afflicted any night elves who might have survived, rendering them into naga who patrol the surrounding seas and make sacrifices to their Goddess, Azshara.
Similar in appearance to the Orc home world of Draenor, Durotar has become the seat of the Horde’s power. The area is named after Thrall’s father, Durotan, and the Orcish capital of Ogrimmar is named after the previous warchief, Ogrim Doomhammer. The land was originally inhabited by quilboars and centaurs, but the orcs, trolls, and tauren have been successful in rooting out or pushing back the majority leaving only scattered enclaves.
Before the Great Sundering, the barrens was a thriving forest and home to a number of kaldorei settlements. Centaur bands sprang up in the new-formed savannah, and the horde would settle the area after conquering Durotar. The quilboar, pushed from Durotar, have their main “city” at Razorfen Downs. While resource poor, the barrens is the gateway to a number of other more desirable areas.
The largest settlement in the Barrens, Crossroads is a profitable and thriving center connecting disparate areas and funneling goods to the orc’s capital city. A goblin enclave, Ratchet, exists nearby. It is rumored that goblin merchants seek to pay the quilboar for protection of their caravans from the quilboar themselves, and the warlike centaur that roam the plains.
The Master’s Glaive
Speculation abounds regarding the odd snail-lake skull with a still powerful weapon residing in its skull. Most likely of the stories is that a titan killed an Old God, or possibly a minion–a forgotten one perhaps–and left the glaive to prevent the creature’s regeneration. The night elves view the area as a holy site, yet cultist’s currently reside in the area. Rumors say they seek to remove the glaive and regain the forgotten one as a master.
Who thought you would meet a god in a tavern, eh? The Deepwater Tavern is located in Menethil Harbor, the Alliance port city of the Wetlands. At the end of the Absent-Minded Prospector quest chain, Aman appears and tells you:
Aman says: Who hath summoned forth Aman? Aman says: Ah, I see you toil with relics of the past. Aman says: Be warned that even your creators are fallible. Aman says: Digging too deep into your past might bring an abrupt end to your future. Aman dissipates before your eyes.
It is possible that Aman is indeed Aman’Thul, the High Father, a titan and leader of the Pantheon.
Sardor Isle is the home of Feathermoon Stronghold, a foothold maintained by the Night Elves. The island was surveyed and found to contain the Ruins of Solarsol, considered ancient, pre-dating the Great Sundering. Naga currently inhabit the ruins.
Feralas: Sea Giant
Protectors of the oceans, sea giants patrol the deeps. Created by the titans, sea giants are worshiped by some murloc tribes. They detest the naga, who corrupt their habitat, and will even go ashore to destroy them.
The cradle of human civilization,the Arathi Highlands is home to Stormgarde Keep, the previous stronghold of the Empire of Arathor. The syndicate ousted most of the inhabitants, although Prince Galen Trollbane fights to regain the keep. The internment camp for the orcs has been claimed by them and renamed Hammerfall after, you guessed it, Ogrim Doomhammer.
Thoradin’s Wall is a huge edifice spanning the valley between Arathi Highlands and Hillsbrad Foothills. The wall was instrumental in protecting Stormgarde from the Scourge. Rumor has it that the wall was built by King Thoradin during the Troll Wars, but has yet to be substantiated.
Perhaps best known for housing the stronghold of the Wildhammer Dwarves, the Hinterlands was once the seat of the Amani Empire, a continent spanning troll empire. Fleeing high elves settled in the area, the border of their own soon to be empire Que’thelas, and taught the arcane arts to humans, demolishing the troll empire. The Wildhammer Dwarves did not arrive until after the War of the Three Hammers. Three distinct troll tribes still remain. The Vilebranch and Witherbark tribes remain independent and aloof; however, the Revantusk have allied with the Horde in recent years.
The stronghold of the Wildhammer dwarves, the most independent and “oddest” of the dwarven clans. Wildhammers have abandoned traditional practices, such as smithing, mining, and even living underground. They have a strong affinity to the gryphons that live in the Hinterlands, and indeed, are best known for their mastery as gryphon riders. Their ability and skill is rumored to be tied to their practice of shamanism. Wildhammer gryphon riders were instrumental in stopping the tide of the Horde following the opening of the Dark Portal although their commitment to the Alliance has faltered and gradually stabilized in more recent years.
Stranglethorn Vale was once the seat of the Gurubashi Empire, the twin of the Amani Empire, that fell to civil war. Many troll tribes remain, as well as a bevy of newcomers. Humans attempted to install an outpost, Blackwater Cove, but were overrun by trolls. Since then goblins have taken over the cove, now named Booty Bay. One of the most interesting bits of lore that remains from the time of the Empire, is that of the Stone of Tides:
“The ancient Gurubashi Empire was a source of many fascinating and intriguing legends that can be, no doubt, traced to their Environs. As examinations of their belief systems Societal practices have pointed to a great reverence for their natural surroundings. The Gurubashi Empire was surrounded on three sides by sea, so it comes as little surprise that water would figure prominently as an aspect of their society. Recent discoveries during Surveys of the Troll ruins in Stranglethorn have shown reference to an object called the “Stone of the Tides”. Various fragments of troll legends can be pieced together to paint a rather complete picture of the stone and its importance to the Gurubashi Empire. It appears that the Stone of the Tides allowed its bearer to control water in its many forms.”
Originally built by the trolls during the time of the Gurubashi Empire for gladiatorial contents, the Arena is now primarily controlled by the Bloodsail Pirates. Every 3 hours, beginning at midnight, adventurers and freebooters can go to the Arena to duke it out for the Captain’s Chest in a PvA environment.
Run by the Blackwater Raiders, Booty Bay is a free port, catering to both Alliance and Horde. Baron Relivgaz rules the town from atop the prow of an incorporated ship that makes up the Salty Sailor Tavern.
Azeroth is a varied and fun place that can be enjoyed not just for the quests, or the end-game, but for the world itself. While I don’t in any way consider myself a lore hound (I refuse to buy the books which contribute much of the modern lore for starters) every town, every zone, and just about every npc you run across has a back-story of some kind.