Thursday, 4 October 2012

World of Warcraft - Lands of Mystery

First off, I have to apologise for being tardy. I was sick for a bit, and after that, I was also busy playing the new expansion, which I have thusfar really enjoyed.

I have been looking forward to this book and the two after, as they're generally considered the best of the RPG books, of which a lot of lore was kept for world of warcraft. This book in particular gave us most of the lay-out of Northrend, still used in Wrath of the Lich King.

Lands of Mystery exists to finish what Lands of Conflict started: describing the world of Azeroth. Like Lands of Conflict, the book is supposed to be composed of the research notes of Brann Bronzebeard, one of the greatest explorers in existence, giving us some nice perspective on the people of Azeroth as well as the world.

Chapter One: Northern Kalimdor
Ashenvale: The great forests of Ashenvale were the first night elf lands visited by Brann, and his reaction to seeing the ancients walking around is really amusing (“I think a few of them gave me bad looks when they saw my axe”). Brann notes that the night elf sentinels lack any real combat experience, which is a weird claim considering most of them are thousands of years old and there has been plenty of conflict, even in night elf lands (most notably the satyr). Brann also claims that Ashenvale is one of the few territories that is under undisputed alliance control, despite the fact that he himself describes the warsong lumber mill and satyrnaar in the chapter.

Azshara: One thing, not limited to the RPG, which I've always wondered: Why didn't the horde simply start cutting wood in Azshara, rather than Ashenvale? The night elves only have a minimal presence, due to considering the entire region haunted, and it's very close to Orgrimmar. Sure, the trees are not as big as the ones in Ashenvale, but you won't lose any wood shipments due to night elf raids either. Plus, you can't possibly need that much wood anyway, considering your low population. Aside from that, the Azshara description is fine, though I have to wonder about the tauren having a listed presence.

Darkshore: Aside from the night elf presence, darkshore has a considerable number of dwarves (which Brann gushes over) investigating the local titan ruins. As another aside, world of warcraft, for some reason, gave all the ruins in the region highborne architecture, despite half of them supposedly being titan ruins. For some odd reason, Brann decides to randomly insult Onu, an ancient of lore, in the description. Otherwise the description is fine.

Felwood: One thing that irks me about the RPG is its literalistic approach to world of warcraft, as it often states that only the locations we see in world of warcraft exist in the game. A good example is seen here, as the book says that there are only two furbolg villages, one for each tribe, in the entire region, rather than saying that there are Deadwood and Felpaw villages spread throughout the region. As a result, the books often make the world seem small and limited.

Mount Hyjal: And here we get the first major stumble of the book, as it says that Astranaar, a town in ashenvale, is the capital of mount hyjal. Even better, the listed population for astranaar is 4000, despite there only being 1000 night elves on mount hyjal. Another fun fact is that humans are described as being a major part of the guard that defends the world tree, despite not being listed in the population chart. The dark trolls and furbolgs that live in the region and joined during the battle of mount Hyjal are also notably absent from the population chart.

Moonglade: In a contradiction to the previous RPG books, Moonglade is treated as if it has always been the home of the night elf druids, and only the druids. There's no real mention of any other former major night elf cities either, so I wonder where the hell they were supposed to have lived before the establishment of Teldrassil. We also get to see a wonderful bit of editing, with Remulos giving a request to Brann Bronzebeard, which is included in the book. However, the request is located in the wrong section, being put in the mount hyjal part instead.

Teldrassil: I'm actually going to skip over Teldrassil. The entire concept and execution of Teldrassil in WoW is so absurd that I can't possibly judge this book over it. Instead, I am planning on making a separate post about the subject. However, one thing I do have to comment on is the description of Archdruid Fandral Staghelm, who upholds the old night elf belief that only night elves should be druids. Considering the fact that dryads and keepers of the grove act as the teachers to night elf druids and have done so since the war of the ancients, that's a really weird belief to have once been widespread.

Winterspring: For some reason, the RPG insists on listing a capital for every zone, even if the zone does not have any faction that is really in charge of the zone. In this case, the capital is Everlook, which is absolutely absurd, as Everlook claims no authority on any location except the town itself.
The book states that Winterspring was home to the dragonflights until the third war, which raises the question why the hell they weren't present during the battle of mount hyjal (something the book pointed out in the Mount Hyjal Section).
As another aside, did you ever notice that the effects of the sundering are only ever described for regions in Kalimdor? Roughly half the zones in Kalimdor are still suffering from the damage the sundering caused, yet apparently, northrend and the eastern kingdoms suffered no problems at all.

Chapter two: Central Kalimdor
I think Brann might be suffering from a sunstroke as he writes this section, as he says that Desolace, the Barrens and Stonetalon Mountains have been reduced to little more than ash and rubble.

The Barrens: The weird idea that dwarves are going to move to Bael Modan in massive numbers is again brought up, with Brann speculating that there will be thousands of dwarves living in Bael Modan in a few years. Why? The only real reason Bael Modan exists is because of its importance to archeologists. Even if the dwarves are so enthusiastic about that, why would they move to Bael Modan rather than the Badlands?
The presence of Northwatch and Bael Modan as official members of the alliance also brings up a few questions regarding the formation of the alliance of Stormwind, but that entire issue is also a post for another time.

Desolace: Okay, so one of the alliance main goals in Desolace is to battle the growing number of undead. Except that there is no scourge presence in Desolace, just a number of necromantic centaur. Like with attacking the blood elves for their use of fel magic, it seems kind of weird that the alliance is wasting troops on attacking necromancers far away when there are still groups of necromancers actively waging war against the alliance.

Durotar: Brann says that Durotar is similar in climate to the original orcish homeworld of Draenor. Aside from the fact that TBC would later show that the orcish homeworld is a lot more varied than what we saw in Warcraft III, Warcraft I's manual had already established that the orcish homeworld was cooler than the lands of Stormwind, which are in turn much cooler than Durotar
The RPG book brings up the idea that Zalazane is allied with the scourge, which is all but confirmed in one of the adventures, where Zalazane starts creating abominations. The source of this idea is apparently that Zalazane uses zombies and “the scourge seems to have a monopoly on zombie-creating crazies”, a point which is blatantly wrong, as we see forest, jungle and sand trolls throughout the world utilising zombies.
The person who wrote the Durotar section is a lot better with the idea of scaling in video games than the guy who wrote the felwood section, as Brann speculates that Skull Rock is but one of many caves used by the burning blade to prepare for an attack on Orgrimmar.

Dustwallow Marsh: The book is very inconsistent regarding the status of Daelin Proudmoore's legacy and that of his surviving forces. In the barrens section, Brann called Northwatch an alliance stronghold, while in the Durotar section, Brann says that the inhabitants of Tiragarde (the same forces that occupy northwatch) aren't real members of the alliance and are as dangerously insane as the scarlet crusade. Another example occurs here, as the introduction had stated that the weight of Daelin's death still hangs over the people of Theramore, while this section states that the population of Theramore supports Jaina and the people who agreed with Daelin have left the city.

Mulgore: Brann makes it seem here that the dwarven archeologists of bael'dun have committed no aggressions, with the tauren only attacking them because they misunderstood the purpose of the expedition. Brann even hopes that he can just explain to Cairne that the dwarves are just looking for more knowledge of their ancestors. However, he seems to entirely ignore the fact that the dwarves of Bael'dun destroyed an entire tauren tribe. Now to be fair, its possible that Brann doesn't actually know about the stonespire tribe, but it's still odd that he never questions why the local dwarves started blowing holes in the mountain without ever talking to the tauren.

Orgrimmar: This section easily wins the award for best section in the book. Something that especially stands out is Thrall's dialogue with Magni, which reveals the true reason for the forsaken allying with the horde (Thrall is afraid of the growing hostilities with the alliance and knows that they far outnumber him) and shows Thrall still actively working towards peace.

Stonetalon Mountains: Some minor foreshadowing for Wrath of the Lich King here, as an adventure reveals that Balnazzar survived the death at the hands of Varimathras. Otherwise, the section is unremarkable.

Thunder Bluff: There is a bit of confusion regarding the difference between shamans and druids here, though it can be attributed to Brann being confused. However, it doesn't really seem like something someone as experienced as him should be confused in. Shamans deal with the elemental spirits and the spirits of the dead, while druids follow the teachings of Cenarius passed down via the night elves to invoke the power of the emerald dream and the ancient guardians. Otherwise, the section is pretty good, though I'd hardly call the tauren a druidic race like Brann does (considering they have been practising druidism for at most four years at this point).
There is also a bit of a minor inconsistency regarding the tauren's backstory, something which carried over to WoW. Some times, the tauren are a race of nomads that travelled around the barrens, until they were forced to move to Mulgore with the aid of Thrall due to pressure of the centaur. Other times, the tauren actually originated from Mulgore, having recently been driven out by the centaur and having moved back into their old home with the help of Thrall.

Chapter Three: Southern Kalimdor
Feralas: It appears that the tauren of Feralas are a bit different from those of Thunder Bluff, with Feralas being their ancestral lands and there being no suggestion of them having been nomads. I always found it a shame that tauren history has never really been developed, as I would love to learn what they were like before the third war.

Silithus: Actually a pretty interesting section (having been written before the opening of the scarab gates in WoW), though some of the gaps in the knowledge of the local night elves seem a bit odd in retrospect.

Tanaris: Another pretty good section. I like Brann's speculation that the Caverns of Time may actually be Uldum. Given the knowledge he has, that's actually a pretty reasonable idea.

Thousand Needles: As this is one of their strongholds, lets discuss the grimtotem tauren for a while. Playing World of Warcraft, I always assumed that the grimtotems were just another tribe of tauren. However, the RPG establishes that they actually only formed recently, as a counter-movement to Cairne's vision of uniting the tauren tribes. In some ways, this makes sense, as it explains their wide spread and their great numbers (relative to the other tribes). On the other hand, it is hard to ignore the fact that the grimtotem tauren united to prevent taurens from uniting. And it's not just a temporary alliance either, as the grimtotem are all loyal to Magatha. I also have to scratch my head at why the grimtotem are even allowed in Thunder Bluff, when they are actively attacking other tauren tribes.

Un'goro Crater: An absolutely great section. This section is far more realistic about the size of the world than most other sections, saying that Brann spent weeks in Un'goro crater and still didn't find everything. It's a real contrast with the barrens, which Brann apparently explored in only a few days despite it being about a third of the continent in length.

Chapter Four: South Seas
Alright, now we're getting into some new territory. Players of the Warcraft games have only seen fairly small bits of this region (the ruins of Suramar and the tomb of Sargeras in Warcraft 3 and Bilgewater Port and the lost isles in Cataclysm), so this is almost completely new.

The Broken Isles: This is the range of islands that includes the ruins of Suramar and the Tomb of Sargeras. Since we last saw them in Warcraft III, the naga have mostly taken over the island range, though the murlocs and makrura also have a rather large presence. The description is really good at presenting the parts we saw in the earlier games, but doesn't really expand the lore regarding the isles, which is a shame.

The Eye: Ooh, now we're getting into really unfamiliar territory. The Eye is the area around the maelstrom, which includes the naga capital of Nazjatar and the Makrura capital of Mak'aru, which are at war with one another. I was a bit surprised that the makrura have any sort of civilisation, considering the fact that in World of Warcraft, they don't even have any buildings. The environment of the eye is described absolutely fantastically, with lots of cool ideas. Apparently, the sundering tore open the land beneath the maelstrom to the extent that the molten core of Azeroth lies exposed in an area called The Rift, which is where the naga built their capital city. I'd love to one day see this place in World of Warcraft.

Isle of Kezan: The RPG version of Kezan provides a rather interesting contrast with the World of Warcraft version, which we would see in Cataclysm. While bilgewater port in Cataclysm was mostly home to goblins, the bilgewater port of the RPG is the biggest of the goblin ports and people of all races can be found here. Most notably, Kezan of the RPG is a lot less technologically and sociologically advanced. Think 17th century Amsterdam rather than 21st century New York. A notable change from World of Warcraft is that the Blackwater Raiders are not affiliated with any of the cartels, which means booty bay isn't a member of the Steamwheedle Cartel, but an independent faction. Overall, the Kezan section is pretty good.

Plunder Isle: Home of the Bloodsail Buccaneers. Pretty boring section really. Only notable feature other than pirates is the presence of a large group of basilisks.

Zandalar Isle: While the description of Zandalar is pretty good, the history section contains a number of major flubs, like claiming trolls built Zuldazar, the capital of Zandalar, thousands of years after the sundering to be one of their first permanent strongholds, when the amani, drakkari and gurubashi troll empires already existed before the night elves even came into being, or claiming that all the troll races participated in the troll wars, when it was just the forest trolls.

Chapter Five: Northrend
The groundwork for Wrath of the Lich King is lain here. While there are a few minor differences (Scholazar Basin is part of the Borean Tundra, Coldarra is its own region and Dragonblight and Borean Tundra are notably bigger), the geography is almost exactly the same. However, there are a number of key differences. Most notable is the absence of the frost dwarves, the iron dwarves and the vrykul. Oddly enough, both Thor Modan and Valgarde do already exist, the former being a stronghold of Ironforge and the latter being constructed by Arthas' remaining forces instead. The scourge is also a lot less wide-spread than it was in WotLK. I criticised WoW and will criticise WotLK for having the scourge be such a reduced presence, but the RPG is a lot worse in that regard, with the scourge having little presence outside Icecrown, Azjol-Nerub and Grizzly Hills.

Azjol-Nerub: I always found it a shame that the Azjol-Nerub zone got cut from WotLK, so seeing it here as a full zone is cool. One odd thing is the fact that Baelgun, the dwarf Arthas killed to get access to the blood key, is still alive in the RPG. While I'd normally chalk it up to just being part of the shoddy timeline, this was apparently confirmed by Luke Johnson (I can't find the forum post, so I can't confirm), developer of the WoW RPG. Out of any character to retcon into being alive, what possible reason could you have to choose Baelgun? Aside from that, the description of Azjol-nerub is also really lacking, with no specific locations described beyond Baelgun's old holdings.

Borean Tundra: The only reasonable excuses for the scourge to not have taken control of the other regions of Northrend are that the natives are so low in population it's simply not worth it or that the natives are too well-defended to make the amount of undead that could be raised worth it. However, in the Tundra, we see those excuses fall flat on their face for the first time, with over 20000 tuskarr and 2800 trolls living in the region, with the largest settlement, Kaskala, having a population of 12500. Considering that the tuskarr have no defensive structures at all and a poorly organised military, this place should be like candy to the scourge. The tuskarr in the RPG also seem oddly friendly, considering that they were hostile creeps in warcraft 3. The description of Scholazar also feels really lacking considering it's a mysterious massive jungle in the place least likely to have it, yet somehow remaining uninhabited.

Coldarra: Home of the blue dragonflight. The nexus as seen in WoW hasn't been thought up yet, so it's simply an extensive network of caves here, like seen in Day of the Dragon. One odd remark that Brann makes here is that the lich king knows better than to invade this place and wouldn't get much from it anyway. While the former makes some sense, the latter doesn't. While the expense in troops would probably be massive, the lich king would still get 500 frost wyrms and, more importantly, access to the knowledge of Malygos, meaning he would have full and complete knowledge of magic.

Crystalsong Forest: There is a bit of an inconsistency in the RPG regarding the location of the genocide of the blue dragonflight. While the Coldarra section say that the destruction of the blue dragonflight resulted in the creation of the dragonblight, this section and the Dragonblight section say it resulted in the creation of Crystalsong forest. Unlike in WoW, there are no dryads, nymphs, satyr or ancients here, so the population is pretty boring, consisting solely of green dragons and crystalline golems (beings created by the storm giants of Ulduar to gather crystals). Brann also gives these races the hilariously specific population count of 141. Considering he didn't have conversations with members of either race beyond convincing them not to kill him, you got to wonder how in the world he arrived at that number. Otherwise, the section is actually pretty good.

Dragonblight: Of all the regions in Northrend to not have a scourge presence (okay, there's 160 scourge in the region, but that's such a tiny presence it can be disregarded), this region is the most ridiculous, since it's covered entirely in dragon skeletons and its defenses are minimal to non-existent, with only the 80 blue dragons of wymrest forming any threat. There's no presence from the other dragonflights, no magnataur, the icemist tauren (the inspiration for the taunka) have a population so small they'll go extinct even without any action by the scourge and the nerubians here are doing everything to avoid the scourge. Yet, for some reason, the scourge apparently has no interest. Brann even makes it sound like the scourge is still trying to find a use for hundreds of dragon skeletons. Hey, here's an idea: RAISE FROST WYRMS, YOU IDIOTS! Has staying in northrend frozen your brains or something? Actually, that would explain a lot about their actions in WotLK.
One of the adventures here is also particularly odd, with Deathwing going to dragonblight because he is dying and wants to be at peace. The adventure doesn't mention a reason for Deathwing to be dying, and there is no suggestion of Deathwing faking this, so we're probably supposed to infer that ol' Fluffywing is simply dying due to old age. However, I was always under the impression that the dragon aspects, being godlike creatures, were immortal. And why would Deathwing even want a peaceful resting place anyway? He's trying to kill everything because he's been corrupted by the old gods. I don't think you get out of that gig just by virtue of being old.

Grizzly Hills: Remember my comment about how silly it would be for thousands of dwarves to move to Bael Modan? Originally, I just chalked it up to Brann being overenthusiastic about archeology. However, Grizzly Hills has a population of over 14000 ironforge dwarves, putting that excuse to rest once and for all. It also has over 28000 furbolg, making it another odd zone for the scourge to not yet have conquered, though they at least have more than a token presence here (4750 undead present).
There also seems to be a major contradiction to World of Warcraft here, with the dwarves having discovered evidence that they're originally from the grizzly hills, placed there as a test by the titans. While it isn't explicitly confirmed, the listed adventure gives the implication that it probably is (with an ancient dwarven artifact found in the grizzly hills). This would be a major contradiction to the history given in the Uldaman dungeon in WoW, where it was revealed that the dwarves were created from a species called earthen by an external force, something which happened about half a planet to the south of the grizzly hills.

Howling Fjord: Howling Fjord is home to Valgarde, the keep built by the remains of Arthas' expedition after he ran off after the final human mission, making this the only alliance-dominated region in Northrend. Not really much else to say, though I like the small bit about most travellers wearing some kind of ear protection in order not to have to listen to the howling winds.

Icecrown Glacier: Well, we at least know where all the undead are, with Brann speculation that there are 250000 living here. Damn, that is a lot. Hey, you know what would be a good use for those legions? Conquering stuff! I know, I know, I keep going on about that, but it's something that seriously irks me. The scourge was such a huge threat in warcraft 3, yet here it's reduced to sitting on its ass.

The Storm Peaks: And another brilliant population count from the people who gave us stormwind. I suspect the writers are really, really bad at math, as this one's a doozy. The storm peaks is the only zone with a listed population of Magnataur, meaning their entire population resides here. Storm peaks has a listed population of 300. The magnataur make up 3% of that population. Ouch. The zone description is okay otherwise, though I find the descriptions a bit lacking. Especially Ulduar feels dull. Come on, it's a legendary titan city. There's gotta be something more impressive to comment on than the smoothness of the walls.

Zul'drak: To close off northrend, we get another zone with a large population yet no scourge presence, with over 33000 trolls living in Zul'drak. Aside from that, the description is actually pretty good. However, we get the most hilarious editing mistake I've ever seen in any of these RPG books: They left in the editor's notes!
“Or were the trolls more intelligent and more sophisticated long ago?
Why highlighted?
Oh yeah. Waiting on word from Blizz. I’ll nudge them.”

Chapter Six: Civilisations
The review is starting to run far too long, even by my standards, so I'll try to keep the next few chapters short. Chapter six gives us insight into four civilisations and gives us rules to play their members. They all look really interesting for people who like to play less conventional campains.

Blue Dragonflight: The blue dragonflight section is exceptionally well-done, giving us lots of clever details. One idea I especially like is the fact that some blue dragons have actually started investigating the holy light, as it is a divine form of magic that requires no worship of any deities (something which the blue dragons don't practice), with some of them likely having infiltrated the church of holy light. The only real mistakes in the section is stating that Malygos blessed the world tree and calling Rhonin Korialstrasz' apprentice, neither of which is true.

Magnataur: Yeah, just throw the storm peaks population count out the window, as the magnataur count as their own civilisation now. One thing that I always find funny about both this book and lands of conflict is how Brann randomly speculates that things are related to the old gods, despite there not being any thing to hint in that direction. The magnataur take the cake in this regard though, as even brann admits that he has absolutely no idea of any aspect of their history, yet he still thinks they're related to the old gods.
The magnataur of the RPG are a bit more intelligent than their WotLK counterparts, having only a minor -2 intelligence penalty, and there is mention of magnataur arcanists, shamans and trap-makers. Overall, the section feels a bit bipolar, with any given example contradicting facts that were established earlier. For example, one of the described characters is Dammia Frostcut, who other magnataur ofteen seek out for advice, assistance or alliance, despite the section earlier saying that the magnataur consider each other enemies and only work together when a strong one dominates others.

Murloc: This is one of the oddest sections I think I've had to comment on. On the one hand, it's really interesting, setting up murlocs as an ancient race that worship mysterious beings beneath the oceans and that, one day, simply appeared out of nowhere. On the other hand, it feels really disconnected from warcraft lore, as there are frequent references to murloc traders, the murlocs are described as being as tall and intelligent as grown humans and the first section almost makes them look like some sort of mythical species, the rumours of which were initially dismissed even by Brann. One other odd thing that I've noted is how much this section focuses on murlocs in Northrend. Coupled with the fact that all other civilisations are centred in northrend, I kinda suspect that Lands of Mystery was originally two books, one about Kalimdor, one about Northrend, which were thrown together.

Nerubians: The nerubians seem to be a big case of “Oops, we didn't think this through”. For example, a nerubian from the warrior caste or the seer caste may be promoted to spiderlord. This is despite the fact that spiderlords have entirely different bodies than warriors or seers. The same applies to random females and queens (who are three times as large). Yet there is no mention of any magic involved or anything. Similarly, the nerubians believe that any religion is by definition futile, yet they were apparently divided into five or six different schools of religious thought before they were slaughtered by the scourge (and one of their listed characters is a shaman). The nerubians are immune to the plague, yet they burn any nerubian who has it in the fear of it spreading. Still, the nerubians manage to be fairly interesting.

Chapter Seven: Adventures
We're gonna skip this chapter, since it's hard to cover adventures without spoiling them.

Chapter Eight: Organisations
Four organisations are given here: The bloodsail buccaneers, the burning blade, the druids of the fang and the scourge. I'll admit I'm not really fond of the choice to pick those specific four factions. The bloodsail buccaneers and the druids of the fang are fine, but it's odd to discuss the burning blade without talking about any of the other orcish clans and/or demonic cults, and the lore behind the scourge is about a hundred times more extensive than that for the other three organisations, to the point that you could probably dedicate a whole book to it.

Bloodsail Buccaneers: Okay, the backstory for this makes no sense. Falrevere, the leader of the buccaneers, was once a racist Kul Tiran merchant. When asked by a gryphon rider to defend Drisburg, a city on Kul Tiras that was mostly dwarven/gnomish immigrants, from the scourge, he calculated that the chances of victory were too low and prospective losses too great to assist the town, so he retreated. And then he decided he was never allowed to set foot on Kul Tiras again. Yeah, I don't get it either. There is no mention of him and his private fleet being drafted into the Tirasian military, so I don't get why a random merchant was expected to go on a suicide run. Sure, he threw the people who protested against the decision overboard, but I think the implication is supposed to be that he did it because he wasn't going to be able to return anyway. A lot of Falrevere's remaining troops chose to defend Lordaeron, which he allowed them to do, and the remaining troops became the bloodsail buccaneers. However, with this backstory, you'd expect the buccaneers to be fairly average sailors who just didn't want to give their lives in the fight against the undead. Yet they get described as the most bloodthirsty and depraved people imaginable.

The Burning Blade: The section's pretty okay, but as I said, it's like having one piece of a large puzzle. One thing that strikes me as odd though is that Brann is surprised that the leaders of the burning blade are orcs from the first war, as he thought orcs couldn't get that old. Wasn't the first war only 25 years ago? Considering the lethargy of the orcs in the internment camps likely hampered procreation a bit, shouldn't most orcs have experienced the first war?

Druids of the Fang: I always found the backstory of the druids of the fang a bit weird. What exactly was wrong with the barrens? Yeah, it was damaged in the sundering, but so were desolace, dustwallow marsh, durotar and thousand needles. If anything, the barrens got it the best. Why not help out your allies in dustwallow marsh or get the orcs their own damn fertile lands so they'll stop cutting down yours? The most logical explanation that I can think of is that there was something else wrong with the barrens, but the only thing that comes to mind is the emerald nightmare, which didn't spring up until thousands of years after the sundering. Also, why did the druids of the fang get a snake theme? The emerald nightmare doesn't really seem particularly snake-themed anywhere else.
I kinda dislike this section, as the writing seems chaotic and jumbled and the druids of the fang never come across like an organisation. Part of the problem is that the section uses the term druid of the fang to refer to the uncorrupted members of the cult, rather than referring to the corrupted members, stating they were already named that before the corruption. However, that doesn't really make sense. The druids of the fang were (according to the rpg) aligned with the bear-totem, so why wouldn't they just be druids of the claw?

The Scourge: As I said, the lore behind the scourge is so incredibly extensive it could probably get its own book. And this section is certainly not bringing information in the most efficient manner either. Reading this, you'd know less about the scourge than the burning blade. What strikes me as especially odd is the inclusion of Linnena Hallow as one of the scourge leaders alongside Arthas and Kel'thuzad, despite us having never seen in her in any media. Wouldn't it be more prudent to have someone like baron Rivendare, darkmaster Gandling or Ras Frostwhisper listed here, rather than a fairly-low ranking necromancer operating in the middle of nowhere?

Chapter Nine: New Rules
A bit of an appendix, giving some new options for players, including three prestige classes

Buccaneer: Now this is another case of being giving too little in a single book. As an aquatic class, the buccaneer is interesting, but as the only aquatic class in the game, it feels incredibly lacking. As it is now, the buccaneer makes for a fun NPC to encounter or something to play in a short campaign, but nothing I would play long-term with.

Holy Strider: This is a tauren spy with a few magical abilities and a connection to the land. Not exactly sure what is supposed to make them holy though. It looks fun, though the idea of a tauren running up a straight cliff is incredibly silly.

Techno-mage: Another class that really belong in another book. At least the buccaneer had a connection to the blackwater raiders and bloodsail buccaneers, which featured in the book. However, techno-mages are found mainly in the eastern kingdoms, which aren't seen in the book. To make up for this, the book gives us a special gathering of techno-mages in Kalimdor, in a place called the house of arcane contraptions. In the barrens. Near the border of Ashenvale. Yeah, there ain't no one who would object to humans and gnomes experimenting around with arcane magic in that general area. Admittedly, the house was built before the orcs arrived. 10 years before the orcs arrived in fact. Back when Kalimdor was still supposed to be a hidden continent. *facepalm* Plus, that just makes the question of why the night elves tolerated it even more important.

Feats: A couple of fun feat related to working in odd territories. Not really anything bad, but nothing that really stands out either.

Magic Items: I have no idea why these four items are here. None of them save Hellfire, the blade of Fel'dan, really have enough of an impact to warrant a list of only four items, and one of them, the argent dawn insignia, doesn't even have any connection to the subject of this book.

Steam Armor & Equipment: Again, I'm not entirely sure why this is here as the book didn't really have anything to do with steam armor. The XK-77 armor, used by mogul razdunk, should have just been in a sidebar, and the rest of them could be left out or saved for another book.

Special Materials: Nerubian Chitin! Okay, I'll admit that that fits in the book. I wonder why there aren't any other materials here though, as I can think of plenty of appropriate things (most notably the materials used by the naga in TFT).

Spells: A few fun spells, mostly related to water. Makes me think it would have been a good idea to put a hydromancer class or arcanist specialisation in here, to compliment the buccaneer.

Overall, I like this book, though the latter half is definitely lower quality than the former. Despite the fact that I like it, I think that this book is the reason the RPG was declared uncanonical. Plot holes, pointless retcons and stupid developments are something blizzard can live with. However, this book would have incredibly limited the potential for any expansion involving Northrend, as the descriptions don't leave any room to add new elements. The book also feels like it was thrown together out of several other smaller books that focused on the individual regions, as the tone and style between the kalimdor parts, the south sea parts and the northrend parts shifts rather noticably. I'm also going to subtract half a point for the pointless resurrection of Baelgun. So, all in all, the book gets 7,5/10.

Next, we take our first look at the world of warcraft comics.

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