Dawn of the Sethekk

[Report in the Communication Tome]

This is Keliera Dawndancer, writing on behalf of Overseer Anrithen Eirvaness while he tends to our supplies and wounded.

Today the Convocation set out from Vol’mar to rendezvous with our arakkoa allies at Aktar’s Post, near a set of ancient arakkoan ruins in the northwestern hills of the Jungle, by way of a mountain path that stretches past Zeth’gol. Due to our prior struggles with the northern side of the jungle, we took the long route, passing Lion’s Watch and heading through the Zorammarsh to the main road.

Fortunately, we encountered no difficulties from the Iron Horde’s orcs on our travels, but the roads are significantly more dangerous than when we have traversed them previously. On our way through Zorammarsh, corrupted ravens (of similar scale to those you can see in the wild in the Spires of Arak) attacked us, demonstrating sharp talons as well as a firebreathing ability. While we survived this initial attack, we encountered more serious difficulties later on.

While scaling the mountain pass to Aktar’s Post, a survivor of the previous battle set upon us again, causing significant wounds to several of our party via felfire, while at the same time several arakkoa set upon us. These arakkoa were fel-corrupted members of the Sethekk caste and had gained new wings, suggesting that the power offered to them by the Legion is greater than we first thought.

Fortunately, intervention by the arakkoa of the Order of the Awakened prevented fatalities, but we lost several crates of supplies to felfire. Three Sethekk arakkoa and three fel-corrupted ravens were slain.

We urge all our allies to be extremely careful on the roads as the Sethekk appear to be becoming more bold in their attacks. The Sethekk’s leader, an arakkoa known to the Order as Iskar, controls tainted kaliri which are scouting the jungle, and we were unable to shake their eyes throughout our entire journey. If any of you count shaman, warlocks or mages in your number, we suggest looking for any ways possible to hide yourselves from the kaliri.

We hope that our allies’ recent successes will help find a way to cut off the Sethekk’s powers of observation. Morale is lower here than we would like, but the arakkoa here appear poised to make significant gains against their Legion-worshipping brethren.

Wishing all our allies success against the Legion,
Arcanist Keliera Dawndancer of the Convocation of Elrendar.

Gorian Gifts

Text in the Communications Tome:
Notes on the Ogre Waygate System for the Perusal and Illumination of Our Allies

Following our arrival in Tanaan Jungle and the establishment of Lion’s Watch, our forces uncovered an unusual waygate of Gorian make, along the riverbank leading southwest from the Watch. Fortunately, the forces of Gul’dan do not appear concerned with it, which has left it free for our study.

Like others reported across the continent, the waygate is placed upon a strong ley-line nexus (and the strongest we have found within Tanaan), suggesting a mastery of portal-magic by the Witch-Lords of the Gorian Empire. These nexuses allow each waygate a sizable mana pool, helping to lessen the impact of opening portals on individual mages. The waygate appears in ruins, but the magical framework required to open portals is still well-maintained, which I theorise is down to the spirit of an ancient ogre-mage tied to the waygate. The spirit appears non-hostile and has not reacted to our attempts at communication, nor nearby sparring, so it appears safe to ignore it.

To activate the waygate, a mage trained on portals should tap into the magical framework, at which point they will be able to detect and select other available nexuses. In coordination with regular portal magic from the mage, the waygate will activate a one-way portal to the target location, which will remain open for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, dependent on the strength of the nexus at the time.

Of course, this presents a problem if we want to move supplies into Tanaan, as no waygate is close to our supply lines. Research in the Lunarfall garrison has revealed that a substitute can be made, by routing portal magic through the waystones used by Draenor’s ogre-magi. A portal created in this way mimics a waygate and can connect to others until the stones’ inherent magic is drained, at which point they are inert until they naturally recharge (we have theorised that their magic is a blend of elemental and arcane, allowing for it to naturally replenish itself). These imitation portals are dependent on the supply of waystones, as a waystone takes several days to recharge itself. Currently, our supply allows us to create a portal once every second day. To establish a permanent regular supply route, a large supply of waystones should be stored.

Alongside several copies of the above notes, which are circulated among those of magical inclination in Rangari Refuge, the following Report appears in the Communication Tome:

These notes have been copied by arcanist Keliera Dawndancer of the Convocation of Elrendar for dissemination among our allies, so that we of the Horde may co-ordinate safer and faster supply deliveries to help us in the campaign against the forces of the Burning Legion in Tanaan. To this end, my thanks go to Magus Cynndia of the Violet Shroud, who initially compiled these research notes and graciously allowed me access to them; and to her comrades, especially Sergeant Dalathar Locke, with whom we have come to a cordial agreement allowing the Horde use of the waygate detailed within these notes. We hope this will lead to continued bountiful co-operation.

Given the contents of these notes, the Horde will need to amass its own store of waystones to create a long-term supply chain, unless we route our supplies via Lunarfall, which will come at significant time and financial cost. If any member of the Horde has obtained any of these waystones, they are welcome to donate them to their commanders in Vol’mar or Rangari Refuge – provided that they check themselves that these are waystones, and not compacted clefthoof dung.

A choice of where we open our own portal has yet to be made, but for ease of use by our allies it is likely to be within one of the Frostfire garrisons nearest Draka’s Reach. We are also yet to decide on a form of signal with the Alliance to show when each is making use of the portal, in order to prevent shipment clashes. Until this is settled, it will be simple enough to do on an ad-hoc manner via the Communications Tomes, as only the commanders need inform each other until a permanent schedule is settled.

Finally, we have recorded signs of attempted interference with the portal by arakkoa since our initial meeting with the Violet Shroud, and suggest that any parties sent to recover shipments are well-armed in case of ambush, and also sent before the shipment is due to arrive, in case of theft.

With a strong supply route on our side, the Horde can begin moving out from Vol’mar and pushing the Fel Iron Horde towards the Citadel, and towards our ultimate victory over the Legion. Lok’tar!

– Arcanist Keliera Dawndancer of the Convocation of Elrendar.

Shipwreck

[Urgent Message in the Communication Tome]

This is an urgent request for aid to any brothers, sisters or friends of the Horde in the area near Western Tanaan. After making landfall in southern Tanaan, the forces of the Hand of the Titans and Convocation of Elrendar proceeded into Tanaan through the swamps.

Proceeding along the main road, we were ambushed by Sargerei, and sustained serious wounds at the hands of an infernal. We are in need of healing and are not strong enough to push through the Front to rendezvous with the forces of the Beastmaw Warband.

If you are reading this message and are able, please send help immediately! We are holed up against the Cliffside east of the Iron Front, and south of the first crossroad on the main road.

-Keliera Dawndancer,
Arcanist of the Convocation of Elrendar

Addendum – Report

The first excursion of the Hand of the Titans and Convocation of Elrendar into Tanaan had a mixed result. While travel through Zorammarsh to the main road from our initial landing spot was without issue aside from some minor skirmishes with animals, our luck deteriorated upon reaching the road.

Initially delayed by a rampaging ancient who had been driven mad by fel corruption, we were then ambushed by a group of disguised Sargerei who summoned an infernal and attacked us. While our comrades in the Hand successfully held off the Sargerei with a magical wall, the infernal did significant damage to our melee forces and we were forced to flee after it exploded in our midst.

Reaching a small grove of trees, we hid and healed our wounded while sending a message for aid to our allies. The Beastmaw Warband responded in force, helping escort us to Rangari Refuge.

Fortunately, we made it through the Iron Front without significant casualties, and I am pleased to report that we suffered no fatalities on this mission, and all injured are recovering well. We are now ensconced in Rangari Refuge and able to make concerted attacks against the Fel Iron Horde with our allies.

Lok’tar Ogar! For the Horde!
-Keliera Dawndancer
Arcanist of the Convocation of Elrendar

Legion Hype Review

Every expansion, Blizzard creates some sort of tie-in outside the main game – something to explain the lore, or get us hyped up. One day Theramore is blown up, the next Gorehowl is embedded in a taxi in Times Square.

In Legion, that model has been updated quite a bit, and I have to say I’m very impressed. Legion’s lead-ups have – before the pre-launch event begins this upcoming week – covered one novel, a selection of comics, videos and an audio drama. Most importantly of all – the vast majority of it was free to access for everyone. Let’s discuss.

(NB: There’ll be no discussion here of the Illidan novel as I’ve yet to read it, though I hear it’s very good!)

Comics

Our first hint of lore came with the release of the first comic, dealing with Magni Bronzebeard’s return, his daughter Moira’s reaction and the clans of Ironforge. This was quickly followed by comics revolving around the Nightborne’s alliance with the Legion and the beginning of the Nightfallen’s rebellion; the mantle of leadership falling into Anduin Wrynn’s hands following his father’s disappearance; and the eruption of war between the Drogbar and Highmountain Tauren in the wake of the seizing of the Hammer of Khaz’goroth.

The comics came in both a default PDF version and an animated version with sound and music available on Madefire. As comics go, they’re very well-made, and in the Madefire adaptations Blizzard have stumbled upon a format that is unique, eye-catching and a level above a regular comic.

In comparison to the other pieces, the comics stand out as perhaps the weakest of Blizzard’s tie-ins, but on their own they still shine. They provide a depth and visceral experience that makes you feel almost there, and the stories covered within give just a hint of the plotlines to come. I was very impressed by them, and rather disappointed that we didn’t get more – Sylvanas/Genn tie-ins would particularly have been served well by this format, I think, and learning more about the other factions of Legion couldn’t hurt. But as a taster, they were fantastic, and I’d love to see more in future.

Harbingers Shorts

In the vein of past shorts Blizzard has produced (Shaohao’s Burdens and Lords of War) the three Harbingers shorts follow a storybook (and, as some have now pointed out, Hearthstone-style) format with beautiful animation, voicing and music. With just three episodes, there is less on show here than we’ve seen in the past, but each episode stands out very well.

The three episodes explore briefly the motivations and recent actions of the three titular ‘Harbingers’ – Gul’dan, Khadgar, and Illidan – no doubt marking them as main players of the expansion. Each features unique and well-drawn graphics, and I have to say I was very impressed, having not been as enthused by Maraad’s narration during Lords of War. These more personal stories brought us a lot closer to the stories of these three characters, and definitely got me more interested in where they were going.

There were some outright stunning scenes during these shorts – Gul’dan’s experience at the Throne of the Elements, as he draws close to, then rejects the elements in favour of darker powers, was haunting. The beam of magic shooting out of Karazhan was also visually stunning, as was the shot of Kor’vas removing her eyes to become a Demon Hunter. In particular, the Illidan short is the first thing I’ve seen that has truly enthused me about Demon Hunters.

I would again have liked to seen a couple more of these – having only three designated ‘main’ characters in Legion is a change from Warlords, or indeed Mists – though hopefully it sets the stage for other characters to impress during the expansion. Now part of a well-tred tradition, the Legion tie-in shorts were some of the best yet, and long may they continue.

Audio Drama

This was the wildcard, I have to admit. I was incredibly surprised to see Tomb of Sargeras announced, and very interested to listen to it. If you haven’t, I completely recommend you listen to all four episodes, available on Youtube and iTunes.

Written by Robert Brooks, who has done many past short stories over the past two expansions and adds Tomb to an impressive array including most recently two of the four comics and Chronicle, Tomb of Sargeras impresses both in literary and audio fashion. Between Brooks’ writing (which I’ve found to be among the best in the universe) and the incredible narration of Steven Pacey (who covers both the narration and all the character voices), Tomb is unexpected, stunning and incredibly immersive.

For me, Blizzard have almost nailed this format on the first try. The music and effects are just as well-chosen as that of the comics and shorts, the story is well-paced and intriguing, and the narration is perfect. I was blown away, and I have to say Tomb went above and beyond anything I expected. For me, it’s the breakout star of Blizzard’s Legion tie-ins.

The only disappointment was, actually, how fast it went. Released over four episodes, one a day, Tomb was over in a week, and after it ended I just wanted more. It covered a crucial story point we likely won’t see explored in game – the events at the Tomb just before the invasion begins – and included some incredible new lore about Aegwynn, the Pillars of Creation and the Tomb itself before the expansion even launches. This is one of the things I’ve loved most about these tie-ins – they haven’t been afraid to reveal things before the game does.

Conclusion

Without a doubt, Legion has had some of the best lore and tie-in materials I’ve seen, with not as much produced for one expansion since Cataclysm, and certainly never released all as fast. I can only hope that the tone Blizzard have set will continue, both throughout Legion and in the expansions to come, as it’s some of the best work they’ve done.

As with every release, it wasn’t perfect, and it can be improved on. In particular, the provision for hearing-impaired players was incredibly lacking, something I don’t think Blizzard anticipated would be a problem, as I’ve certainly never seen so much hype for out-of-game materials before. Dedicated players have created transcripts, but it would be nice for this omission to be rectified in future – everyone deserves to experience what is some of the best-made lore I’ve seen in years.

Blizzard have set the bar higher than ever before with Legion, and following the hype they created for Warlords, to say even that is an achievement. I hope beyond hope that they live up to it, because I don’t think an expansion has ever deserved its hype more. This kind of fantastic lore-building – stuff we rarely see in such detail in-game – absolutely needs to continue. Well done to all who created such fantastic tie-ins.

Thoughts On 7.0.3

I’m not really sure how to start a post like this, because whenever I talk about a patch it’s some long ramble on Twitter, usually punctuated with what I hate about a patch (5.3 stands out to me as a sore spot).

This, on the other hand, will be mostly positive – horrendous, horrendous camera issues aside (if you don’t know what I’m on about, go do Al’akir or Alysrazor).

My main’s an unholy death knight, and I have to say, the rotation has improved immensely. Not that I have ever really had a problem with the rotation as such, but Legion feels so much more fun. Festering Wounds add a much better dimension to disease management, and I now have actual reasons to use each of my strikes. Epidemic works a lot better than blood boil.

I have come across some negatives – mobility, in particular, was a big selling point of unholy for me personally, and I’m not especially pleased with the reduction in it. A similar thing goes for rune cooldowns – with now only Runic Corruption to help speed this up, I’m left with periods where I literally cannot do anything except auto-attack, and then suddenly surge into having too much to do at once. If there was a way of levelling this out, it’d help.

That said, I remain pretty confident with the spec, especially considering the perks of Artifacts aren’t even in play yet.

Regarding nearly enough everything else, I’m sad about the lack of garrison gold, but there’s already been a positive effect – the price of WoW Tokens is on the decline! Hopefully affordability is not far away. The sudden surge of resources is also helping me to level up a few professions on alts before the expansion’s end.

The addition of the ‘Unlearned’ tab on professions is a welcome addition for me to figure out what I’m missing, though addons do add a level of detail missing from this tab. The sneak peek at Legion recipes is also appreciated.

All in all, I’m looking forward to Legion! (Expect a hype post soon)

Omen

Keliera shifted in her bedroll. The air was hot and sticky, causing the soft windwool to cling to her. They were on the coast now, far from the protective barriers and harsh winds of the Kun-Lai Peaks to the south. The ocean winds brought hotter weather with them.

She threw off the cover. The smell of sulphur could not be avoided, lessened though it was. Quietly, she moved over to the open doorway, perching herself on the balcony, looking out over the waves. The two moons shimmered on the water, pale blue and white. If you looked far enough, the ocean and the sky became one.

She took a deep breath. The lands were still, save for the occasional bubble of fish drifting close to the surface. Everything was calm in Pandaria.

The sky certainly belied the panic of earlier. The foul clouds and fel-smoke that appeared briefly over the northern ocean had vanished as quickly as they came, but the warnings of the fel-addled troll still swirled around her mind. Could that talk be true? Demon-palaces, fires reaching into the sky?

It did not bear thinking about. She stared out across the bay, hoping the boat would arrive ahead of schedule.

Lazarus

Hello.

I spun at the voice from behind me.

“Who’s there?” I cried into the jungle darkness.

I am here. You hold me in your satchel.

“Who- what-“ I scrambled through my satchel. Wands, mana gems, rations, bandages, Lakka’s ashes. Lakka’s ashes.

“You – it can’t be-“ I stared at the ashes, feeling sweat trickle along my neck in the jungle heat. I reached down gently, grasped the case, pulled it out of the bag. It thrummed with energy.

Oh, it can. The magic of Rukhmar transcends death, child. Especially when there is… Unfinished business.

The case thrummed harder, hotter. I set it down on the floor.

“I- I don’t understand…”

In time.

The case shone and light beamed out, bouncing off the trees, their tainted leaves being burnt away. The light cast shadows over me, until I could see the figure form within it – thin, tall, proud. As the light faded away, she was left there – Lakka.

I scrambled back, falling onto my hands and feet.

“You’re supposed to be dead! I saw you die!” I hissed.

And I am. I can no more effect this plane now than the High Sage could.

“Then why? Why are you here?”

That is for us to find out. You were at the council with the emissaries. The arakkoa have a new god. Asghar dares not speak its name. The Conclave have plans, child. Plans for the Legion, and this world. Plans neither you or I factor into.

“Plans? But we all have plans.”

Make no mistake. You are involved now, more involved than you know. The future of this world is far from decided. The future of my people even less so. I could not see how blind Sethe made me – how blind he has made my people, how blind the gods of Arak have made all arakkoa.

The future is coming. It is fast and bright and beautiful. It is dark and clutching and terrifying. It is everything and nothing. It must be shaped. And as I am beyond help, it must be you to do so.

The arakkoa sat down in front of me. Unlike before, the fel taint was gone from her wings, the maddened red eyes now clear and bronze, any sign of the curse absent.

Let me tell you of my people.