Archive for the Roleplaying Category

Patches, Expansions and the vanishing world

Posted in Fun, Guides, Raids and Instances, Reputation, Roleplaying with tags , , , on October 11, 2010 by Natarumah

As you may know, patch 4.0.1 is right around the corner. With this patch, all of the basic game mechanics changes will be live (talents, glyphs, User Interface, the works). It also might allow us to work on the next pre-expansion event, since they are now on the PTR for testing. According to what I know, patch 4.0.3 would be the Cataclysm itself, changing the old world forever and making everything ready for the expansion. You might not be able to fly in Azeroth yet, but you should be able to get a feel for the place you will be spending the rest of your game time in.

(Spoilers!): This post will contain information regarding questlines which will be removed, changes in achievements and the like for Cataclysm. If you want to be surprised and not know what’s in store – stop reading here.

Out with the old

This also means that some changes will permanently end our ability as player to get our hands on certain achievements, gear and questlines. In other words, some things need to be done now if you ever want to get them done.

Scepter of the Shifting Sands

According to reports from the PTR, this one’s broken. The NPC Narain Soothefancy has been moved, and no longer gives the quests. According to Bornakk the quest will be fine in 4.0.1, but when the Cataclysm hits (4.0.3?) it will definitely break. I myself completed the Red and Green questlines and am a few Elementium Ore away from finishing the Blue questline. I suggest that if you have the intention of doing this line, start now.

Each run in Blackwing Lair has a chance to net you 1-6 Elementium Ore. So far I’ve never seen more than 6 drop, but if you are lucky it can happen. They also can be bought on the Auction House, but usually for ridiculous amounts of gold. As far as show-stoppers, the Elementium needed for crafting the Arcanite Buoy is definitely the worst.

Zul’gurub

The [Zul’gurub] and [Deadliest Catch] achievements become a Feat of Strength, and being Exalted with the Zandalar as well. The whole area has become a leveling zone on the PTR, so it seems that if you want those Trolls to like you and have it on record, you’d have to do it now. The Zulian Tiger and Razzashi Raptor are two rare drops from the bosses, and there’s no telling if they will become available through some other means, or are simply gone.

It’s not all bad, however. Zul’gurub has a 3-day lockout, can be soloed by a tank or 2-manned by anything else, and awards 2.5K-3K rep per run. During the run you will also find rep items (coins and bijoux) which can be turned in from more rep. A combination of 3 coins of the right types awards 25 rep, while destroying a bijou gives you 75 rep. Each of these actions also awards you with 1 Zandalar Honor Token, which you can use to gain another 50 rep.

A good tip would be that if you have well-geared alts, to do multiple runs in ZG. If your character’s less powerful, find others who also need the rep. Between your characters you will easily amass the rep and items to become Exalted in two or three weeks. You can also buy them on the Auction House, but now that people are aware that they are a rare commodity now, the prices are going up.

You also gain some rep by handing in the Head of Hakkar for the first time, and obtaining your class gear from the Zandalar.

Epic Class Quests

It’s not 100% sure to me whether the Epic Class quests (Hunter, Paladin, Warlock and Priest) will vanish or not, but it’s a fact that there’s no better time to get them done than right now.

The Hunter quest begins with the Petrified Leaf dropping from Majordomo Executus in Molten Core, and leads you to a ring of Elder Trees in Felwood. A good write-up of the questline can be found on Wowwiki and WoWHead and at level 70+ the quest is a breeze. The reward is an epic bow which sprouts flowers, a quiver and a staff. While not the most awesome pieces of eye-candy, it does have that “I did that” feel.

The Priest quest likewise begins with Majordomo’s chest and the Eye of Divinity that drops from it. The second part of it is the Eye of Shadow dropping from Elite demons in Winterspring and Blasted Lands. Again, a full description of the quest can be found on Wowwiki and Wowhead.Your reward for this quest is Benediction, a Holy Priest’s staff, which can be transformed into the shadow-staff Anathema.

Paladin and Warlock quests revolve around their mounts, and start at the class trainer. Nowadays you can get these mounts from the trainer without doing the quest, and completing the quest is a Feat of Strength. But with changes to the areas in which the quests are done, such as the Plaguelands, make it impossible to complete it. Even if this is not intentional, it could be a long time until that’d be fixed.

Crafting Recipes

When dungeons and areas are changed, it is possible that loot tables are adjusted for mobs in the area, or that vendors are (re)moved. Examples are the Gnome vendors in Azshara where you can get the engineering schematic for the water-breathing helm. I can imagine that with the Goblins invading the area, they’d be taking up their business and leave, taking the pattern with them.

I’d recommend getting the addon Ackis’ Recipe List and using it. When you open your crafting pane, you see a button called “scan”. It will then give you the locations of each recipe for that tradeskill, if you do not know it yet. Especially in the old world, a lot of Blacksmithing recipes could be gotten via quests started in areas you’d normally not spend time anymore, such as Winterspring. With this, you can be sure to satisfy your completionist’s soul while you still can.

Unusual Questlines

There are tons of unusual questlines, which are very long, expensive or out of the way. Since the design for Cataclysm is to streamline and enhance the leveling experience, some of these are likely to go away. A good list on this can be found here, so you can check if there’s any in there that seem interesting. If you feel bored and want to relive some of the old days, go and do some of these old quests. Do bring lunch however, some of these take more travelling time than actual questing!

Conclusion

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating. There’s no way you can predict what will stay and what will go in Cataclysm. Maybe pets and mounts will become available through alternative means, maybe not. If you want to get some of these classic things done, now is the time, because there’s no turning back once the Cataclysm hits.

It is safe to say that the TBC and Wrath quests and items will be largely unchanged, except for no longer offering the special achievements for Northrend raids. So while Invincible and Mimiron’s Head are still to be found when doing the hard modes for LK and Yogg, respectively, you will not be able to get Conqueror of Ulduar, Undying, Immortal and the like.

Best thing to do is make a checklist, in order of how badly you want to get these done along with the Classic stuff, and see what can be done. Others are likely to share your goal, and making this known may spark quite a rush. In our guild, a one-time BWL for the Red scepter shard become a weekend special, as did Onyxia. Achieve your goal, inspire others!

Guides: Feedback and Requests!

Posted in Guides, Professions, PvP, Raids and Instances, Reputation, Roleplaying, Shadowpriest with tags , , on August 2, 2010 by Natarumah

As we are slowly marching on to the release of Cataclysm, I have come to the realization that there are many things I still want to do; my hunter’s epic level 60 quest, completing the Scepter of the Sands questline, completing a few of the old questlines and reputations. So, with a light heart I started completing the Scepter questlines (about halfway now) and started gathering materials for a lot of old world factions like the Thorium Brotherhood.

This prompted me with an idea, for which I will need your assistance. What I want to do is to create a series of guides on some of the old world and Burning Crusade material from the perspective of a Shadowpriest.

Guides I am sure to do at this time are:

  • The Insane title
  • The Scepter of the Shifting Sands questline
  • RP outfits from the old world with RP commentary
  • Loremaster’s Compendium (this will take a while!)

What I will do in those guides is make a clear and step-by-step documentation on how to do it, from a Shadowpriest perspective. I don’t care if it can be solo’d by a Hunter or Paladin, but if a Shade can do it – and if not, what you will need to get it done. The usual niceties apply; maps for quests and locations, questlines in order, requirements listed beforehand and if any useful addons currently exist to help you.

I also want to include a “cheat sheet” with each guide, basically a one-page checklist of all the materials you will need to fulfill the requirements of the guide, including some optional stuff if applicable. To me it should feel like this one page when printed out and put next to your keyboard should answer all your needs when checking the AH or grinding.

I know there are many other guides out there, most of them paid, but what I am going for is to make it specific for our needs and to put some brains in it. That is to say, if there is a smarter way of getting it done than the usual, I go for it. I will try to get a sample guide done this week to show you what I mean.

What I need from you guys is to tell if you feel a guide should have more “meat” in it than I described. I need these guides to be usable and complete, not quick rundowns. Consider this your chance to get your wishes across – I am writing these guides for you, after all!

Second, I want to know if there are any reputations, questlines or other guide-worthy subjects you want to see published; I am open for requests and there’s plenty time for me to go and get firsthand experience as well as research these subject matters. Just keep in mind I am looking for things that are Shadowpriest-specific; I don’t think I will make a guide on completing the hunter epic quest or a showcase of Paladin armor. It also doesn’t need to be Classic-only. The Burning Crusade has a lot of fun things to do that would be helped by a clear how-to.

Let’s get the ball rolling!

Prepare thy bunkers!

Posted in Fun, Roleplaying, Shadowpriest with tags , , on April 26, 2010 by Natarumah

Okay, so we know Cataclysm will be going into its Beta phase soon ™ and that somewhere this year the face of Azeroth will change completely. Some places will be changed beyond recognition, some will shift in control from one Faction to another, and a few zones are opened up to us by the massive events for the first time in history.

So, how do we prepare for this, knowing it is coming? And how do we keep ourselves entertained between now and patch day?

Preparations for war

One of the things I learned from the transfer from TBC to Wrath is that it is terribly hard to get anyone to run the older instances. Even now, Naxxramas is mostly abandoned and even Ulduar is a quiet place these days. If there is any item, achievement or quest you want completed from those regions, better start now. Because, once the Cataclysm hit people will have very different things on their minds and getting a group for Ulduar will be as tough as finding a group for Black Temple these days.

Stockpiling or saving up?

Some people prefer to save up on crafting materials from the TBC-Wrath range, knowing that there is a flood of Worgen and Goblins coming up, and they will want to powerlevel their professions. Also, changes in the professions themselves may want to make people reroll, so you could anticipate on that as well.

An other way of thinking is to sell everything you still have, making sure your bank slots are available to the new materials needed in Cataclysm, or the materials to be introduced (if any) to level up Archaeology. If you are one of the early (and few) sellers of such materials, you can expect to make a tidy profit.

Achievements

When you are close to the Loremaster or one of the Dungeon/Hero achievements, you may want to make sure to get it done as soon as you can. Not only will groups going there be more and more rare, there’s a good chance the world will change in such a way that achievements like Loremaster may need a lot more effort than currently.

With the knowledge that a new Goblin/Worgen faction will likely be introduced, and thus also four additional mounts and maybe unique pets, it might be a good idea to stock some cloth to speed up your reputation leveling with them. If you need another faction and few mounts or pets for those achievements, why not prepare now and get it done early?

Rerolling?

Rolling a Worgen or Goblin? You might want to consider spending the (probably useless) Emblems of Triumph you have now for a full set of heirloom gear for those yung’uns. Chest, shoulders, main (maybe offhand) weapon, two trinkets and maybe even a gun (depending on class and how many Stonekeeper’s Shards you have) are waiting for you to swoop them up and mail them over.

This time, BoE blues are also relatively cheap on the AH – you can’t swing a dead fish without hitting some 10gold level 72-80 blue item on the Auction House. If they are on an all-time low and you already know what class your new toon will be, why not grab a few and store them for later? Once the rush to 80 begins for the new Goblins and Worgen, these blues might skyrocket in price again, since supplies dwindle as demand increases. Don’t like your new toon? Sell them on the AH for profit later then.

Fun and games

People get bored between the old expansion and the new, it’s a fact. Once your raid group has cleared normal Lich King, expect to see enthusiasm and attendance dip. Make sure you are finding ways to enjoy your game time, or take an occasional break.

Fishing achievements and quests are a nice relaxed way to gain some minor benefits while chatting with friends, and exploring the world for The Explorer can also nab you some rare creatures and awesome sights to make screenshots of. Make a picture book for yourself, documenting the world as it used to be, so that you can remind yourself from time to time what an awesome time you had.

One of the things I plan to do, being on an RP realm, is to make a storybook on what happens to Natarumah during the changes during Cataclysm and a short while after. If you do as well, link it on your realm forums, and show the RP community that you care.

A year from now, the world, the game and our enjoyment of the game may be completely different from now. But it pays off to prepare yourself with the most positive attitude and look forward to the good things coming. Imbalances, nerfs and bugs are bound to arise, and times will be hard. But if you keep the thought in mind that the game is advancing, I am sure the ride will be much less bumpy.

U to the Lduar

Posted in Diary, Fun, Raids and Instances, Roleplaying, Shadowpriest with tags , on April 19, 2010 by Natarumah

Well, now that this expansion is drawing to its close, I find myself back again in Ulduar, facing the 10man hard modes to complete a nice list of achievements. I have to say that so far, Ulduar is pretty much my favorite instance in the entire expansion. To quote a certain rapper:

“Yo Icecrown, I’mma really happy for you, and I’mma let you be farmed…but I just wanna say that Ulduar is the greatest raid instance of all time. Of all time!”

Well, lame jokes aside, there are many reasons why for me Ulduar is such a lovely place – if you have your own favorite, do share which one and why. I am always curious to what people look for on those dungeons (aside of epic loot).

Immersion and atmosphere

The moment you enter Ulduar, for the first time you feel like your are part of a greater thing – an entire assault force stands ready, it really feels like outside events are moving along with you. Brann Bronzebeard leads a force of engineers and mages, but is unsure how to proceed. Enter the heroes who figure out by years of standing in fires how to activate the transporters.

It also represents a great wrap-up of the events outside of Ulduar. The storyline of madness from Grizzly Hills completes as you find out that Yogg-Saron’s whispers are to blame. Saronite’s diabolical origins are revealed and traced back all the way to this prison. Thorim’s sad story and capture culminate in freeing him from his mental prison. Assisting the Avatar of Freya shows a bit of her power, but you will feel her unrelenting fury in the Conservatory. And finally, the fight against Yogg-Saron himself takes you back into the history of Azeroth, showing just how far the influences of the Old Gods go.

Ulduar’s progressive storyline was taken into Icecrown, and that makes Icecrown a very interesting instance, from a lore perspective. But it wasn’t the first, and it wasn’t the best, in my opinion.

The threads we earned

The tier sets that were designed for Ulduar were lovely, and meshed great with the environments. Standing in your Tier8 inside Ulduar made you feel like you belonged there. As if you were actually draped in the raiments of the Titan’s followers, and were exacting their will. While Tier9 meshed well with the concept, the sharing of textures between classes was a bit hit-and-miss, as well as the division between Horde and Alliance. For my warlock, I wished I had rolled her horde for that reason.

And Tier10 makes little sense to me. The sets look stunning, and are in most cases fitting to the environment, but certainly not to the class. Making priests look like cultists, mages like San’layn and paladins like Death Knights was an… extravagant choice to make.

On top of that, the legendary that could be earned by healers, Val’anyr, was awesome across multiple levels. You needed to collect shards, tiering its progression, as well as do a hard mode to complete it. But in return you got a weapon that matches every healing class, provides unique (and difficult) gameplay and stunning looks. Frostmourne is great in-game, but its lore is sketchy and does not match any except one of the classes that can use it. Its game mechanics are also rather bland, it does not influence the playstyle but simply adds AoE damage and self-healing.

Encounters

What I loved about the Ulduar Hard modes is that activating them was tied to player choice and sometimes player skill. Flip a switch on Mimiron, or exceptional DPS on Thorim/Hodir or the choice to not take the easy rod (Freya and Vezax). While I understand perfectly why this idea was not copied in TotC and ICC, I feel it adds so much when your actions in-game determine how hard your time will be, instead of the raid leader flipping a switch on his raid console.

The encounters themselves were very varied even in Normal mode, and it took a bit of thinking to squeeze everything out of it. So far the Hard modes in Icecrown as reminiscent of this, not mere +damage copies of Normal mode. Sometimes a DPS race in a Normal mode becomes a survival fight on Hard mode, which is an interesting switch.

I hope that we will see more of such encounters in Cataclysm, where the encounters are intense and fresh on Normal mode, and flip completely on the Hard mode. I love being surprised and having to change my game play – yay for Velithria Dreamwalker!

Note that the encounter mechanics in Ulduar are not new per se – they are often borrowed or reconfigured from Classic raids and mixes of some Naxx encounters. But the mechanics do make sense, and they fit the bosses you fight wonderfully.

Sense of Completion

When all is done, and your hard modes cleared, one final challenge awaits. Sure, Algalon is not needed to get your Protodrakes, but he represents the storyline coming full circle, the entire tale turned to its end. And not only will you have saved the world (and gotten some fat loot for it) you also get to tell Rhonin the good news, and have him announce it across Dalaran. I had the pleasure of completing this quest line, and it felt awesome to be part of such a nice story.

I also managed to win myself the quest item to get the Algalon key on 10man, and I am really happy for it. Completing this quest (even as part of the raid, not the questee) gives access to lore and the real final boss of the instance.

One day, I can walk around in my Tier8, proudly sporting my Astral Walker title while carrying Val’anyr (well, will takje some time to work on the latter, real healers go first!) and enjoy the fact that I have seen Ulduar from start to finish.

Shadowpriests and Yogg-Saron

In a role-playing perspective, there are many tales you can spin regarding Shadowpriests and Old Gods. Some claim that we worship them – or even Yogg specifically. In the latter case, how did you get over his defeat, where does your power come from now?

Perhaps you serve another Old God, an unnamed rival who wishes to weaken Yogg-Saron to claim some of his earthly schemes. If so, your presence in the raid was to guide your fellows to defeat him, and to ensure his defeat by contacting your Master.

For Natarumah, as an Achorite of the Void, she went into Ulduar to quelch the threat of Yogg-Saron, hoping for his death to trigger the attention of Algalon. For the message he would send would represent a guide-path to the Titans. A source of lore and power greater than ever imagined. Like a beam of light, she could have her senses follow it, and perhaps learn secrets that would help her in her real scheme…and since she had possession of the message before passing it to Rhonin, there is no telling if she might have altered it beforehand.

Conclusion

If you freshly leveled up your toon, and have skipped Ulduar (like so many) by getting a set of Tier9 with emblems from heroics, I would strongly suggest you join a raid heading for that place. But don’t go there for the loot or achievements alone, take the time to enjoy the scenery, the stories unfolding and the feel of history moving about you. You will not be disappointed – Cataclysm will continue the story for which Ulduar formed the solid base.

Natarumah as a raid boss

Posted in Fun, Roleplaying, Shadowpriest with tags , , on February 25, 2010 by Natarumah

This shared topic on the Twisted Nether unfortunately shot straight passed me as I was still embroiled in my faillure to access and post properly on WordPress. However, I find it endlessly intrigueing and have often wondered myself how I would portray myself if I were a raid boss. Well then, last but not least (I hope) my take on this subject:

Natarumah – Archon of the Void (Level ?? Boss)
Location: Ulduar, Descent into Madness
Type: Summonable caster boss

Quest: Access to summoning Natarumah requires a short quest chain which starts in Ulduar. Once Yogg-Saron is slain, each character will receive a mail within 24 hours of the kill from Vindicator Narzheena, indicating that the players were not alone against Yogg-Saron, but that someone…or something…was looking on. Attached to the mail is a broken Draenei lantern, which was left behind on the scene. (This item starts a quest).

Accepting the quest leads the player to Brammold Deepmine in at Curiosities & Moore. He will analyze the lantern and tell you that it is specifically a lantern designed to darken an area instead of lighten it, and that it has seen much use by the Anchorites of the Void, a mistrusted order of Draenei Shadowpriests. He will repair the lantern for you, allowing you to call the being who owned it…but the catch is it can only be used where the previous owner dropped it last…

A key item is placed in your keyring called the Void Lantern. Use: Allows you to summon the Archon of the Void.
This item is not consumed, it works just like the urn from Nightbane used to, in Karazhan.

Summoning

When the raid reaches the Descent into Madness, the first room allows for the Lantern to be used. Swirling masses of shadows will gather at the center of the room, and the eerie stained glass windows will glow with a purple light. When the mass subsides, Natarumah hovers across the ground and begins her speech.

Natarumah: “So, you seek to interfere with the Master’s business. I know of your dealings in this place. Each of you heard the whispers. Bow before the lords of the eternal dark and be granted epiphany. Do not linger any longer on your petty, moral concerns…”
Natarumah: “Pity. I was afraid you would not be able to see the grand scheme of things. That leaves me no choice but to impress the exalted will of my masters upon you…personally.”

The fight begins with Natarumah having 5 million health (7 million on 25man), as well as 10 million mana (she will start the fight at half mana). She will place Shadow Word: Pain on raid members, all damage taken is converted into mana for her. She will occasionally shield herself (absorbing 25K/75K damage), which needs to be burned through.

On the tank, Natarumah does Shadow melee damage, meaning that some Shadow resistance gear and buffs may be necessary on lesser-geared tanks. She cannot crit with her melee attacks, but in 25man mode, each successful hit will add a stacking debuff to the tank that increases Shadow damage taken by 5% – this means you need tank swaps now and then.

At half health, phase 2 begins.

Natarumah: “Enough! This is not a match of power – this is a match of will and endurance!”

Natarumah will disperse into shadows, becoming immune to damage. Every 30 seconds, she will open a shadow portal in one of the corners. A voidwalker-type add will spawn (like the ones from Netherstorm, with the lanterns on the shoulders) which deals Shadow melee damage. The adds have to be tanked, and they can be tanked by a caster. Each Void Walker killed will reduce her mana by 20%.

When her mana pool is empty she will enter phase 3.

Natarumah: “Such power…such conviction. I applaud your efforts, and will answer them in kind!”

The third phase is like phase 1, but Natarumah will cast Mind Sear on random raid members (including the tank), meaning affected people will have to run away from the raid or they will spread the damage (the target itself will take no damage of course). She will also begin to cast Mind Blast on the tank, which increases in damage until she hits her enrage time (10 minutes).

Death

Natarumah will sink to the floor, her body evaporating in shadowy motes.

Natarumah: “Paradise awaits…in the darkness.”

The dark pool left behind can be clicked to receive your Emblems of Triumph and loot (probably Ilevel 232 or at most 245 trinkets, rings and neck items). Maybe an rp-item of one kind of the other (like a cloak you can click to turn into a shadowy ball, but without game benefits).

Enrage

Should the fight hit 10 minutes, Natarumah will begin channeling a spell, and all raid members will be lift up in the air (levitated) and a horrible crushing sound can be heard as the characters are instantly killed. Their lifeless bodies drop to the ground as Natarumah laughs derisively and despawns.

Fight tips

Positioning would be spread out around Natarumah at all times, making sure that she is tanked in the middle. Adds should be tanked by a caster (such as a warlock or another shadowpriest) or a normal tank in heavy shadow resistance gear. Shadow Word: Pain needs to be dispelled as soon as possible, to prevent her mana bar from filling too quickly. Mana Burn and Drain Mana might actually come in handy to control this phase.

In phase 2, controlling addsl is key. Adds count as demons and thus are affected by Banish, Enslave, Holy Wrath and similar effects normally – but will have no effect on her mana pool.

Phase 3 is an all-out nuke, where stacking tank damage will act as a soft enrage. This fight is very healer-intensive, but not as difficult as most Ulduar hard modes. Anyone affected by Mind Sear needs to clear the raid asap, and keep away until she stops channeling Mind Sear.

Conclusion

I tried to make this fight combine multiple elements to make it interesting for everyone – healers should see lots of spiky damage, as well as light consistent raid damage. DPS can go to town on her shields and adds, while having to use the adds to burn her mana pool bypasses traditional “Park adds and nuke boss tactics”. Tanks both have a tank swap and the need to have the melee move away from them if they get Mind Sear.

I will look at this idea later on, and see if renewed insight and a fresh pair of eyes might add elements or flow to this fight that would be more interesting.