Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Hakkar killed. Good job Requiem.

I remember a long time ago when the gates of Zul'Gurub first opened. I was not ready to travel there yet, and the guildmates who were found out quickly how difficult it was.

Now, so many months later, I'm there with our first kill of Hakkar.

Sunday the guild eliminated the first two aspects that server Hakkar. The Bat and the Snake.

Last night we entered and took out the other three. The Panther (which we've done, but has stymied us for a while, but last night we did it first try), the Tiger (which took us four tries, but it's our first kill of him), the Spider (which we did before, but not reliably, but last night first try).

Phat lootz included the Will of Arlokk, the amazing cobra staff of healing. But I lost the roll. (Trying so often and when we succeed, and it drops!, I lose. :( ) But we learned and will go back often and it'll be mine someday.

After all the aspects were dead we were ready to confront, at long last, Hakkar, the giant winged serpent that inhabits the central temple.

Now that the Aspects were killed, he would not receive their buffs.

We wiped once, I'll be honest, but on our second attempt he died. (He basically killed himself, if you are familar with the strategy.)

What a thrilling, and all too late, night for the guild.


Friday, January 27, 2006

Agent of the Forsaken. Life on a PvP server. Life's not over until you're 60. Life ends at 60 rather often. Enjoy it.

Darkhoof took the night off. No doubt ruminating on some of the grasses of Mulgore, recovering from the blistering he got in Molten Core Wednesday night.

Oddity though, lazy Orc that he is, has been just resting up a storm in the Undercity. Level 38 and some amount of rested xp built up again.

It's time to hit the pavement Orcy boy. "Lok'tar!"

I make sure my gear is repaired, my bags are empty, I check the mail and grab the stuff that didn't sell and run it back to the Auction House again.

I'd got an invite to go later to Razorfen Downs but that companion-in-arms had not appeared in the realm yet.

I exit Lordaeron (Thanks, Human Race, for the nice city. Too bad we've got it now!) and turn westwards. I don't know why I decided to run, but I did, and I headed out to the Sepulcher.

On the road I saw some younger characters heading the same way. One had acquired a Worg and the Worg was chewing his butt but good. He might have kept going and the Worg might have lost interest except the Worg had managed to daze him. I got to within charge range and let that Worg have it. I looted the body and saw the Worg's heart was still collectable. I gave it to it's intended victim since I know he would shortly have a quest to recover more such hearts. I ran on after he'd thanked me and I'd cheered.

I reached the Sepulcher but then decided that what I wanted to do was clear up some quests in Hillsbrad. "Ganksbad" is what they should call it. Gank Mill and South Gank. :) I jest. But I also wasn't running there to PvP. I've got 40 to reach, and by gum, I will. Eventually.

First quest on the list was to collect a few more skulls from the pesky humans. The poor Deathguard in Tarren Mill, stuck there guarding the place, had sent me out to do his business. And his business had me collect him 30 skulls. Nice. Agent of the Forsaken is what I am.

I've seen leper gnomes. I've seen dark dwarves. I've seen Undead elves and humans and trolls.

We Orcs were torn from our homeworld of Draenor. We were once noble, we embraced nature and it's forces. But the Scourge came and corrupted us.

I guess unlike the other races, where pure representatives are still to be found, Orcs are, to a man, woman, and child, corrupted forms of our once noble selves. I'll be very happy if one day I can return to Draenor and find an Orc cousin who remains untouched by the scourge. Would he be a tusked brute driven to constant warfare? I think not.

But here I am. Product of the scourge. Tusked and with fire in my eyes!

So, Orc Think here: You need 30 skulls? Okee dokee.

And I also had to get some shards from some Forsaken traitors being held by, or in the protection of perhaps, the mages of Dalaran. And I needed to collect some stones off these mages and researchers as well.

Since Dalaran was closer to the Sepulcher than the village of Hillsbrad, that was my first stop.

The prison camp is easy enough to find. The guards are laughably inadequate to keep a warrior such as I out, and one by one the traitors met their end, leaving me with the shards they had sought to turn over to the Dalaran mages. The last of them was guarded by a mage who dropped a journal. It accounted her tests of the shard. It accounted her attempts to establish the material characteristics of the shards. It accounted for about 12 pages more than me, a brute Orc, cared to read. "Ah, maybe somebody cares back in Lordaeron!" Into the bags it went. "Zug Zug!"

I then moved out to the old city of Dalaran. Most of it's been bubbled, whether it is protected or devastated inside is a question. Outside it's only ruins with the odd Dalaran researcher wandering around. They carry stones for some purpose and I managed to pry a few from the more than few cold, twitching, fingers.

Now Dalaran is on the "run path" for the Alliance to go to the Scarlet Monastery. The Scarlet Monastery is the questing destination for both sides, from about the mid-30's to 40 or so. What that mean is every so often I'd spot Alliance, individuals or small groups, running past the place. One such Alliance, a Druid, ran rather close. I checked the level, 34 or so, and figured "Me Orc! Me have business to do!" so I turned my attentions back to the folks of Dalaran.

Now after this Druid had passed a Dwarf rode up on this massive Ram. (Them's good eatin'!) His level was ??. Karma, remember that? He waved, I waved, and he rode off.

And shortly I had the shards I needed, and the stones too. Next on my list of jobs was to collect 30 Human Skulls.

So I went to Hillsbrad Fields and I played out the neverending battle between Orc and Mankind and it took a while but eventually I had my 30 skulls. (How is it possible that these Hillsbradians don't all have skulls? What's up with that? Are they degenerates? What's holding them together??) While I whittled down the population, and whittled down their successors, I did see a few Alliance scurrying about. Usually at a distance, always moving the other way. Yay! (Ooh. I forget to mention I dinged 39 at Dalaran. Yes, the skulls quest is below my level, but a quest is a quest, I can earn reputation with the Undercity, and sometimes it just feels good to harvest skulls.)

Bags full of stones, shards, and skulls, I made my way to Tarren Mill and turned it all in.

A freind whispers me and asks if I need help in Stranglethorn Vale. You bet, I reply.

So I flew from Tarren Mill back up to the Undercity and then took the Zeppelin down to Grom'gol Base Camp in Stranglethorn Vale. This friend was Onaeveim who has helped me in the past.

Camp Nesingwary's is a little busier than normal. And while I hunted tigers and raptor and panthers there are more than one or two misunderstandings there between Horde and Alliance.

There was a ?? Rogue wandering the area. At one time I came within a hairsbreadth of me and another killing him. His vanish foiled since I'd put a Rend on him. And there! He lets out a last breath! As I let out mine. :( No Honor Kill for me. Later he'd find me alone and kill me without too much threat to his neck.

But I do manage to get a good bit of hunting accomplished. Ona joining me at times, other times ranging ahead, or looking for trouble behind. He encounters a Paladin and a Mage and makes a, most likely astute, assumption as to their possible sexual orientation. Further on we run into a hunter, or rather Ona does, and then this ?? Warrior runs into me, and then all hell breaks out. There's Ona, 60, me, 39, and like 4 Alliance, 2 or 3 ?? to me. "Darkhoof's got to come!" says Ona. "Okee dokee" says Oddity. Oddity leaves the world in the Spirit form, and Darkhoof comes alive in Orgrimmar (dust, not grass, he's been munching on it would seem). I, as Darkhoof now, astral recall myself to Kargath and then jump a pridewing down to Grom'gol. Before I land I see that Grom'gol is under attack. Good. Not far to go to find the fight.

There's Ona, surrounded by 4 Alliance, all level 60's, some younger ones, the Orc guards are out fighting too, some Horde players as well, and I run in, Frostshock one on him, and then a Flameshock and it dies. I'm rooted and then a 60 Hunter starts firing! I Frostshock! and Frostshock! and come free and knife the little guy to death with my Sorcerous Dagger! Earthfury gear for the win! (Since I'm not at all Elemental specc'd. I'm a healer. Not a fighter.)

It's raging. Back and forth. I do die twice. But I get 8 HK's. It's late and we'll have to leave soon. But Theido joins us. A guild Druid. And Ona and I change to Ghostwolf form and Theido gets into cat form and we run up the coast. Ooh, I'd hate to run into us. Little Gnome Warlock with pink Princess Leia buns? Left without the means to self-motivate. Night Elf Hunter lady. Remember us? We remember you!

And Ona says "This is what I'm talking about." Yeah. It was fun. I'm sure it was fun for the Alliance too. We live a little, we kill a little, we die a little. We need to have fun. (And keep company with at least one level 60 friend around.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Tonight is MC Night. So grab your stuff, your ankhs, and get down to Kargath. We'll be leaving at 8:50 p.m. sharp. Or thereabouts. Don't forget to repair before you set out, Noob!

I start this thread hoping that I'll be able to add to it as the action tonight unfolds.

A run to Molten Core with Requiem, a horde guild on Smolderthorn.

(Well, I'll be taking you on the run we do on Wednesdays. We aren't "leet" enough yet to do it all in like five hours or so. Eventually, but not quite yet.)

It's T-3 hours now and I'm just getting this together so it's ready to go when I am.

I've got my, Darkhoof's, Astral Recall spell set to Kargath. There's a reason for it that I'll get to.

Too, the only real raiding I do nowadays happens to be in Blackrock Spire and Kargath is a far superior jumping off point than Thorium Point is. God, what a PvP nightmare that place is. Heh. Ever try to turn in 1,000's of Dark Iron Ore, 5 at a time, to some thick Dwarf while Night Elf rogues are prowling about? That's just no fun.

Okay, so it's 5 minutes before meet time and I am attempting to connect to the server.

Ummm. This happened last night while we wanted to go to ZG. And the last time. And the time before last.

Still connecting. What's up Blizzard? I was just on a realm. I move over to a low population server (Smolderthorn) and I can't log on? Vent's up so I tell my guildies I'll be a little late to Kargath. Others are experiencing the same thing. While I wait I'm already typing in the blog here. (I am now updating this since you can't type in a blog and heal your charges at the same time.)

But, no worries. I did manage to log on, and I was already in Kargath and I got an invite to the raid right off. Nice.

Darkhoof leaves the inn at Kargath and it's like the scene from a Turkish Bazaar. There are people everywhere! Two or three different guilds. Preparing to run Molten Core or Blackwing Lair or maybe just go to Upper Blackrock Spire or such.

I tracked down Lexia, our mage, and she gave me some of her wonderful water. Like mana, or ambrosia. Quite restoring to the mana pool. Lexia is usually very difficult to find. Yes, she's got some nice colorful robes on. Her eyes are like little beacons. She has a happy dancing little murloc as a pet. But imagine a slight Undead Mage amongst a sea of huge Tauren Shaman, Warriors, and Druids. It's like horns and manes is all one sees. A quick /target revealed she was close by so I open a trade window with her and in exchange for 5 snowballs she gives me 40 Conjured Waters. (I've got the snowballs to spare and she enjoys hurling them at Ona the Orc Shaman.)

I've got water, my gear is repaired, and so I kill a little time. I get my Worg Pup out, change into Ghostwolf form and run around like a mad dog.

I'm not much of a PvPer. But I'm undefeated in the ghostwolf vs. ghostwolf category. Such a simple and feral fight. No spells, no heals, no windfury procs, just good old teeth sunk into somebody elses fur. It's a slow fight, we 60 Shaman have a lot of health, but I whittle them all down eventually. Master of the Pack. At least in dog form.

I ran into an old friend and waved as he managed to defeat a Warrior. He is a Shaman. It's our healing powers that gives us an advantage. Kind of like a Paladins "bubble heals," our lesser healing waves can be improved with talents so they aren't as easily interrupted. With +218 healing I can recover a goodly amount of health while still fighting. (A 60 Warrior once found that out when we ran into him down in Stranglethorn Vale.)

At the appointed time, 8:50, we set off for Blackrock Spire. We like going as a group, because, like they say, United we stand, divided we fall.

We aren't alone as we enter the gates of Blackrock Spire. There is a pathway of skeletons down the ramp. Before I even leave the tunnel I'm rewarded with an Honor Kill. (I love when I get Honor Kills and I don't even see the death. This particular Honor Kill was a Knight-Lietenant.) Then another. I spot the red names now. One is on the floor under a mob of Horde. Dead or very short. Two more are on the rocks above the chain. A level 60 Mage and one other. I'm hoping it is not a Priest as I jump on the chain and move downwards. For the Mage I drop a Grounding Totem to absorb any spell he might thrown my way. Now a Priest, as I've already once told you, will Mind Control you and dump you in the lava. Halfway down the chain, out of habit, I drop an Earthbind Totem. Don't need anyone following me too closely now. "I need space!" I make my through the center and back onto the next chain leading to the bottom and at last get to the Blood Elf and his gem. I touch the gem and am transported into the Molten Core. (Outside the shimmering portal I can see the end of Blackrock Depths. I'm glad there is a shortcut to reach this place.)

Sidebar: As we collect inside Molten Core someone tells the story of a friend of his. His friend is just level 56, first time ever anywhere. Proud to finally be getting to go someplace as famous as Blackrock Spire, he makes his way here, across the Searing Gorge, enters the gates, comes down the ramp, and, first time mind you, is promptly mind controlled and run into the lava. The person telling the story then says as of that day all Alliance, of any race, level, or creed, will die if he can manage to get to them. At the point where a war becomes personal, watch out. Bad things start happening. For both sides.

Not all of us had left the same time. A handful of folks were asked to go repair. Some were asked to put their clothes back on and then told to go repair. I thank the gods that loin clothes aren't a removeable article of clothing.

While we wait in the entrance of Molten Core we hear people talking about entering Blackrock Spire. Uh oh. Those Alliance we ran into? They weren't there to cause a little trouble. They must have been gathering for a raid as well and in between our passing them and our stragglers reaching them they'd reinforced their numbers.

But, at 9 p.m., our appointed time again, we pulled the first Fire Lords.

These battles are becoming second nature now. And our Warriors and Hunters are confident enough to stay ahead of the game. The mana of the healers barely, and not always, restored before the next fight starts. But that's how it's supposed to be done. Just a moving wave down into Molten Core to the first bosses.

Now Molten Core has what we call "trash mobs". They include Fire Lords which are massive giants, made of molten lava. They usually come in pairs. Our raids always have a Main Tank and an Off Tank and no matter what your talents build is before reaching 60, if you're going to be of use, or want to be out front, you'll have a Protection Build to go raiding. Warriors are there to take damage, not do it. Mages, rogues, hunters, and elemental shamans, are there to do the damage.

Another form of trash mob is the Fire Elemental. These are like the elementals you might find in the Arathi Highlands. But immensely more powerful. Level 62 or 63, and Elite.

Then there are the Rock Elementals. You've probably seen these in Thousand Needles or the Badlands. And there's a few versions of each of these trash mobs. Some of the Rock Elementals run person to person and smash up people. Others have a big hit that sends everyone around them flying. (Think Matrix.)

Then there are the huge two-headed Core Hounds. Either individual, or in packs. And they have multiple talents as well. They might breath fire. They might stun the entire raid. They might send you scurrying about in fear.

All of these trash mobs, if handled wrong, can wipe out a 40-man raid.

How? you ask? Well, funny story from this very raid. We have two hunters out front. One pulls some elementals from one side, the other pulls some dogs from another. The classic "Doh!" moment. We're capable enough raiders that we can only but laugh at this. Too funny. "You pull." "No, you." "No, you." We're close enough to the entrance that a few survive by running back out of the instance. That could result in death anyway if the Alliance are right outside. On the way out a mage dropped dead next to me. He'd been dotted (damage over time had been cast on him) by something. Almost! Well, short of it, we survived, returned, rezzed, and were back in business.

We continued on into the Core on the way to our first boss, Lucifron.

One thing a little different than other instances. The respawn rate of trash mobs is very quick. You have maye 20 minutes and these things reappear! Don't stop! And don't forget to make a note of when you killed what. You don't want to be picnicing when something is due back. However, yay for us, we've gotten good enough that we move so fast we don't worry about keeping timers going.

We kill some more elementals and then prepare to fight the Fire Imps. (Right. Just like the Grell kin found in Darkshore. But level 62, Elite, and swarming in packs of a dozen.) This is usually the death of at least a couple of our mages, but this night the Imps fall under a whither rain of fire and frost and lightning. We run through them so easily this time.

Lucifron is there before us. And we're there for him.

There are some Core Hounds yet to remove from our way and then we prepare for the fight.

I'm in the Main Tank's group this run. First time.

And I die. Video can be found here.

But Luci goes down. And Cenarion Boots and Felheart Gloves drop. Every boss will drop at least two [epics].

After the loot is distributed we get going on the next task. This is to kill Magmadar, an even larger two-headed hound. Magmadar makes the Beast in UBRS look like a Chihuahua dressed in a funny little people clothes.

To reach Mag we need to go through some Core Hound packs. These aren't quite as difficult as the Core Hounds that wander about the Core, but they come in groups of five, and if you don't kill them all at pretty much the same time, the surviving hound will resurrect the dead ones. All five have to die at the same time, and then someone has to pour a bucket of water on the ashes to make real sure they're really dead for sure. "Only you can prevent wildfires."

There are like five or so of these packs. And we take them out one at a time. Our Warriors tank the dogs and everyone else rains hellfire down upon them.

Until we stand before the Big Dog. Magmadar. He's ... relatively easy. Not much to do here. The Main Tank beats on his nose and everyone just shoots stuff, casts stuff, or stabs him from close range. If you aren't the Main Tank, and you see teeth, it's time to lay up the damage!

Magmadar isn't just a big slab of beef though. He breaths fire and can launch this fire thing that lands on you like napalm. He casts a fear spell that has everyone not protected by a Stonetremor Totem running about the place like boys at Neverland Ranch. Even with a totem you'll initially run off. You simply come to your senses earlier. (Whew, Michael is out of town!) And he bites I suppose. I tend not to get too close. I drop my totems and keep an eye on our other casters mana levels, in case I need to drop a Mana Spring or Mana Tide totem, and otherwise heal the boss.

And then Magmadar goes down. So easy this time. 1 1/2 hours into our raid. Woot.

See the video here.

When we first started we would typically, on a Wednesday, only do Luci and Magmadar.

As we got better we could move to the next boss. At that point though all those trash mobs we'd cleared through earlier would be back. We'd have to fight all the way out to where we turn to the next boss. At this point we'd strip off our durability items (death causes damage, repairs cost money) and make a suicide run out. I.e. run and and be killed by the first mob. Then run back from Thorium Point in spirit form and then reappearing at the entrance with not too much harm done. (If you find yourself at Thorium Point, in spirit form, and you're surrounded by a mob other other spirits, and none of them are wearing anything, that's what they're doing. (If they've just wiped then they'd still be wearing their gear.))

But this time, we've done so well, we simply go back out the way we came. The Fire Imps have respawned but they are non-issues this run. And we find ourselves on the hill overlooking Gehennas area. And we start down.

It's not so bad. I used to seem impossible. But here we are like scouts on a hike. There are Fire Lords and Fire Elementals and Rock Elementals on the way to Gehennas but they're not tough. Gehennas has two guards and they're just seperately tanked, killed one by one, and then all attention goes to Gehennas. This is a tough fight. He's got his regular attack and he's got some curses he likes. One time a shadowbolt found me and hit me for 2,100 points of damage. Ouch. (Yes, being in the mere presence of a good rogue will cause about that much damage, but here on top of everything else, it's deadly.)

Gehennas goes down 2 1/4 hours into our raid. And it's all over. Booya.

And we aren't done yet.

Last stop tonight, kids, is Garr. A great big bunch of rocks piled on rocks.

This room is like a mall at Christmas time. There's a dozen trash mobs in the area. If you had one of these in your neighborhood it would fold onto itself and create a black hole. Heavy, man.

This is how we do Garr. Four Warlocks take and banish 4 of the 8 Firesworn who protect Garr.

Firesworn are Rock Elementals. Moving pebbles stacked on each other. But can they hit. And once you kill them they'll explode and everyone around goes flying. And if you kill one, you only make Garr stronger.

So the Warlocks banish and hold 4 of the Firesworn and keep them out of play. Four Warriors have the other 4 Firesworn. And then one by one the Firesworn are killed. As each is killed the group attacking the remaining Firesworn gets larger. When the 4th is killed all attention is turned to Garr.

And it was such an easy fight for me. I healed the Main Tank, kept the totems up, and since he took so little damage the healing easy.

But, as Ron Popeil says, Wait, there's more. Well, we are almost done.

On killing Garr the fights not yet over. Remember the four Firesworn banished by the Warlocks? One by one the banishment is broken and the Firesworn is killed. With the 8th dead then it's time to count the loot. I think another Earthfury Helm dropped and since I already had one, this raid didn't get me any loot. :) But it's fun nonetheless.

So, at end of the night we had taken down 4 bosses in 3 hours. That's 8 epics, or about 1 per group of 5. Would you invest 3 hours for an epic item? Sure you would.

With the last of the loot in it's new owners hands, the portals open to the Undercity and Orgrimmar and I step through. One moment in the Molten Core at Blackrock Spire, next in the dry streets of Orgrimmar.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Droonda and Oddity visit Shimmering Flats. Pick up broken goblin parts. Wonder if goblin engineering is really all it's cracked up to be. (All the parts would say "Yes" to that question.)

We had gotten a note from some Orc warrior in Orgrimmar to go visit another Orc stationed at the edge of the Shimmering Flats, that vast expanse of salt and crusty beats at the bottom end of Thousand Needles.

There was something up that involved the insects we know as the Silithid. Folks know them early on because a small hive can be found in the barrens south of Camp Taurajo. Our next place to encounter them is in the western end of the Shimmering Flats. There is a large hive area in sands of Tanaris, and yet another below the swampy waters in Un'Goro Crater. Like stepping stones leading to a war, the largest concentration is in Silithus, and what nightmares await us beyond the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj?

But Oddity and Droonda weren't taking on the armies of the Qiraji. We were going to simply harvest some parts off a few randomly skittering about bugs.

They are curious things. Sometimes you can kill one quite close to a neighbor. Other times you attack one that is all alone and they'll call for help and you find yourself surrounded by them and running for safety. Being a level 38 Warrior it was not a difficult quest. (There is a follow on quest attained by collecting a bug part.) Oddly, we entered their hive there, with the glowing egg sacks hanging from the cieling, and we dispatched these creatures here one by one. I even mined a few ooze covered mithril veins, so it was more than just bug parts.

We returned to the Orc stationed on the border and concluded our business with him, given, of course, the quest to follow-up elsewhere again.

But the evening was early and the expanse behind us was calling. I thought Droonda might enjoy seeing the Goblin racing track. While there we were given a few quests to accomplish and we set out accomplishing them. Killing Basiliks, killing scorpids, collecting goblin racing machine parts.

Those parts were scattered everywhere. And yet folks trust those Zeppelins?? And yet the other alternative for cross-world travel is boats, and who builds boats? Ever been to the Dead Mines? Right! Goblins. It's therefore no small wonder that every now and then, when you're expecting a comfortable flight across the world, you will instead find yourself falling from great heights into the unknown. You may remember the recall so many months ago, when Captain Placeholder was brought in while the boats, and the Zeppelins too I assume, were being worked on.

With all those quests accomplished what was surprising was there was no fights with Alliance. There was something in the local defense channel. Some Night Elf Druid had attacked someone while they were fighting something but the Druid was run off without a death. I later saw the Druid, level 30, and on seeing me and Droonda he immediately changed to cat form and disappeared. We encountered a level 31 Dwarf Hunter in some big water filled blast hole but we're banking karma so we let him be. I know that someday that Dwarf Hunter will plant as many arrows in our back as he can, and I hope the karma I've banked will find him squashed flat, like some Looney Tunes 'toon, by Sulfuras, The Hand of Ragnaros, wielded by an avenging guildmate. That mace is coming. I see the descending shadow now.

And while we watched the start of one of the races a ?? Night Elf Warrior appeared. She rode around but did not dismount. And then her ward appeared. A level 39 Night Elf Hunter who appeared to be speaking with the same goblins as we were. Walk tall, carry a big stick, and have a level 60 guildmate cover your six. [Recipe: For Success].

After the races we headed back. I continued on to Stonetalon Peak and did a few circuits of the Charred Vale to mine some more mithril and iron.

The hammock in Sun Rock Retreat was a welcome sight.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Woot. The Majordomo sent to the children's table.

Gehennas, Garr, Shazzrah, Sulfuron, and Golemog downed.

Majordomo told "All your minions can't save you." and they don't. We loot the chest he leaves when he runs off. Not a bad night's work.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Can you go back? A return to my Paladin. And how being good looking hurts you.

I spent over an hour trying to log onto WoW last night. When I finally did manage to get onto WoW the start time for our guilds Zul'Gurub raid had already passed. I left a note for a friend on Smolderthorn to come and give me a hand on Frostmane. My Paladin, level 25, had the Paladin quest to get a hammer forged. I'd already gotten the wood from the Dead Mines, the gem from Blackfathom Deeps, something else (what? :), and I was only missing the hammer that is found in Shadowfang Keep.

I logged onto my Paladin, level 25 Human, called Honorus (for the Emperor, not "Honor Us") and found myself at the inn in Goldshire. I was the owner of a bar and a half of rested experience so that was nice to see. My friend wasn't on but I needed to get to Southshore anyway so I headed out. I ran up to Stormwind City, hopped the train to Ironforge, and hopped a Griffin out to Menethil Harbor.

Being a Paladin and knowing my immunity bubble has a five minute cooldown, :) (rumors that the Paladin armor set provides reduced hearthstone times are just that! cruel rumors! :) and knowing that while the run to Refuge Pointe would be easy, heading west from there, passing south of Tarren Mill to reach Southshore, that just sounded like a long run.

Instead I ran out onto the Menethil Harbor docks and leapt northwards into the water. It's a long swim but on the swim I redid my talent tree, which had been reset in my abesence. I went all Retribution with the 15 points I had, with 1 talent point into a speed boost so I can run at 104%. Good for running down runners it turns out.

I also ran CensusPlus in the background. This add-on takes a census that you later upload to warcraftrealms. What surprised me immensly was how flat the line was for Levels 10 to 59, either 0 or 1 player in the level, and the spike of over 1,600 characters at level 60. (I've just looked at the census for Frostmane and it bears that out. There are less than 175 or so characters at each level up to 60, and it's even across every level, and 4,280 characters at level 60. If you aren't 60 on Frostmane you aren't on Frostmane.)

Curious I looked at Smolderthorn's census where I have a level 60 character myself. Smolderthorn had 4,225 level 60 characters. What is interesting is that at levels less than 60 the numbers per level start at about 150 or so, like Frostmane, but gradually slope up with more low level characters starting in the high 40's, 330 at 40, 215 at 49, and in fact having 988 level 10 characters on the server now. (Come to Smoldethorn! We're low population and our economy isn't totally ruined. On Kirin Tor blue items for level 18 characters sell for 40 to 50 gold. Last night in Redridge, on Frostmane, a level 18 Paladin had a Fiery Enchant on his two-handed hammer.)

(Also, per the census, Requiem, the guild I'm an officer of, is 7th on the list of Smolderthorn Guilds. Out of both Alliance and Horde guilds. Not bad.)

Smolderthorn and Frostmane are both PvP servers. If you aren't 60 on Frostmane you're basically alone in your level. Imagine trying to do quests like that. If you're lucky there might be 10 level 25 folks on the entire realm at the same time as you. I can't imagine the play dynamic on a realm like that. What do all the bored 60's do?? Ever wander around Stranglethorn Vale trying to do quests?

I took a look at the census done for Kirin Tor, an RP realm, and the curves are much friendlier. Most, over 2,000, are level 10 and it drops on a curve down to the 42 level 59's, and then there's the 516 60's who've run into the levelling cieling. I.e. lot's of action and folks your level around.

Runetome, a new PvE realm, has 1,311 level 10's and that drops to few at level 25, and only 4 level 60's.

When I ran CensusPlus on Runetotem I was a little surprised when it immediately found a couple folks in Un'Goro crater. ALREADY?? Do they ever sleep or do they have anything else to do but play?!?! Their guild name, honest, "YesWeDoSleep". And they aren't even in the top 5 guilds on the server.

Argent Dawn, the first realm I played on RP, has a flat graph like Frostmane's, 821 level 10's, and 6,100 level 60's.

People will make new characters on new realms, and they don't on older ones. They're more likely to make new characters to join current players on a PvE or RP realm than on a PvP realm. Why is this?

New realms = new characters.

That's clear. Everyone wants to start in an unfarmed economy where a visit to the auction house isn't an exercise in lag.

Old PvE or RP realms = fewer new characters.

I've got 10 days played time *at* 60. There is lot's to do at 60. If I'm on a level 32 character I'm not farming UBRS or MC for my gear. (And with Outlands coming and the level cap going up to 70 we 60's had better be geared for it as best we can.)

Old PvP realms = gank city.

Who wants to start a new character on a realm that's got ever increasing numbers of 60's? Yes, the 60's do have stuff to do. But to cross the world to hunt you down, personally, in Redridge, that appears to be priceless for them.

And here's where it ties back in with my story. It wasn't that long of a swim for Honorus the Paladin on Frostmane, Guildmaster and sole playing member of the guild Exiles of Gilneas. (My own guild. I won't be /gkicked for inactivity!)

I swam ashore in Southshore and got the flightpath and hopped the Griffin back south to Ironforge, then back to Stormwind City, and then out to Redridge.

Yawn! That's a ton of flying time. So I was perusing the internet while I was doing it. Looking at census figures, thinking things over. When I returned to WoW I was dead at the foot of the flightpoint in Redridge. Close by is a level ?? Orc Rogue bouncing around sprinting player to player cutting them down. There was a ?? Tauren Shaman, but in crap gear, so he might have been like level 40 something. The Rogue though had some good gear. 60? I recovered my body and moved into town away from the action. At one quest giver was a dead Undead Warrior. He was wearing level 19 gear. What the hell was this guy doing in Redridge? Horde go miles out of their ways to go to Redridge. There's no quests for them there. Horde in Redridge are hunting HK's or simply hunting you! :)

But I was not put off by this. My friend hadn't logged onto his level 47 NE Warrior so I was just looking for something to do. I killed Murlocs and collected their scales for one quest. Then I ran up into the hills behind the town to kill gnolls and recover spikes and bolts for the bridge repairs. I entered the mines where I mined tin, collected the last of the spikes and bolts, and got some Rethban ore. I also dinged level 26. And I put the 2nd talent point into my speed increase. That's how I got to 108% run speed. (This will also come in handy running from Southshore out to Shadowfang Keep in Silverpine Forest.) I returned to Stormwind City and visited the Paladin trainer and logged off.

I logged onto a few more characters to put a new add-on, Titan All Played, to use. This add-on captures played time data for my characters. With all my characters, I might be missing Kinless in the total, I have a combined played time of 63 days. That's since the game came out November of '04. (Yeah. Color me addicted.)

A couple of the players in Requiem told us they had 60 days played on their main characters alone.

But Darkhoof is only 33 days played. Honorus, level 25 Paladin, only 6 days played time. Oddity, level 38 Warrior, also only 6 days played time. Isn't that odd?

There was a study done that said characters on PvP servers level up faster. No kidding. If you don't level up you die.

The same study said that Horde characters levelled up faster than Alliance. They explained this as Horde players having more drive. More time is spent questing and less time spent looking pretty. (I guess when the Blood Elves come out they'll be the slowest race to level up! Or the fastest because it will be cool to run Elves against the Alliance. "We're meaner, cooler, slicker, and better looking! Watch out." :)

The undead players were the fasted to level up on the Horde side. The Night Elfs the slowest to level up on the Alliance. That supports the argument that you want to just get to business with an ugly character, and you want to preen with a good looking one.

However, the Undead quests in Brill (noob), Tirisfal (to 10), and Silverpine (to 18) are wonderfully close together. The rest of the world and the Horde capital (multiple auction houses being too recent to impact this) only a Zeppelin ride away for the Undead players.

The Nightelf quests in their beginning area (?), Darnassus (to 12), and Darkshore (to 20) are much further apart. For a Night Elf player to get to the rest of the world and the Alliance capital involves a 20 minute run through the Wetlands from Menethil and guaranteed multiple deaths if you don't have an escort.

They made it easy for the ugly ones, they made if difficult for the good looking ones. (Don't forget: The Blood Elves will start in the Eastern Plaguelands! Talk about a tough starting location!!)

Humans, though, have pretty much the same proximity of questing possible as the Undead. Northshire, Elwynn Forest, Westfall. We recently ran some Night Elfs, level 1, to Northshire. They're going to quest like humans. So far, so good.

Oh, before I logged off Honorus went to the auction house. Being level 26 now he bought himself a gold coif. This replaced the dull steel one he'd been wearing forever. He looks rather imposing in it. His eyes a glinting blue. His hair spiked just right. ("Wait. Is that a little gray in my hair? Damn. And crowsfeet? Where's the apothecary?" And so another played day passes for an Alliance player without too much progress. :)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Darkhoof's got new boots. Another great run into MC.

Our Wednesday Night raid into MC was another good one. Heck, they're all good.

Well, we did aggro a Surger and some Fire Imps, and then aggro'd some Fire Giants and a Core Hound, but when we had the bosses in our sights, Lucifron and Magmadar, they went down first tries.

Loot for Darkhoof this run was a pair of Earthfury Boots. I now have the head, shoulders, and foot pieces of the Earthfury set. Not only looking pretty cool, all molten lava flowing between the rock and metal, they provide a +10 yard range on my totems. I am still wearing 3 pieces of the Elementals set and that's getting me +50 armor still. And otherwise my gear is giving me +218 Healing. (And, yes, I'm still the top healer on the raid. :)

For anyone first raiding Molten Core, it so much more intense than anything else you've encountered. When UBRS to Drakkisith gets easy, Molten Core's first mobs, the so-called "trash mobs", will give you a butt whooping you won't soon forget. And then there's the actual bosses.

But it all gets easy. Every boss has a weakness, every battle a strategy. Every wipe is just one more step in the direction of victory. And, Good Lord, the epics sure are sweet.
Was that really necessary? You /flex and /guffaw and have 10+ levels on me.

Droonda and Oddity completed the quest to kill some Nagas off in the waters of Desolace. We decided to head straight to the coast at that point and run to Ghostwalker Post to turn in some fish. (Fish!)

As we ran eastwards to the post we managed to encounter every dinosaur, vulture, and dust devil in the way. My "contested zone" radar was in full operation and in every battle I was scanning 360 to be on the look out for the bad guys. We were lucky. Nobody was around.

We ran across the road and saw the tents of the Post appearing in the near distance. I was ahead of Droonda and we were making decent time.

Then a horse road past. Human mounted on top of it, glowing blades on his back and at his side. Rogue. Level ??. "Just keep riding" I thought. "Just keep riding." We aren't worth anything to him. Ahead of us he dismounts and disappears. "Damn." So I tell Droonda "Just keep running, the entrance is right ahead." Then I'm sapped. Stunned in my tracks, reeling about like a drunk man, unable to do anything. Then he sets out for Droonda. Taking me out of the picture with a sap, level 37, the Rogue takes off after Droonda, level 32. Real nice.

A Night Elf Rogue appears when he ambushes me and I'm quickly cut down. Droonda reaches the safety of the Post and has escaped. The Human Rogue apparently expended his sprint to reach me stealthed to sap me before he set out to murder Droonda. Droonda never even changed to Ghostwolf form but escaped nonetheless. The Human Rogue returns and /flexes at me. "Ooh, so strong." Then he /guffaws. They ride on. Really? Good job guys. Gank me and move on. I don't need to know you're 13 and your friends are beating you up in the bathroom at school so you think you're all that all of a sudden because you can murder a pair of grays. Newsflash: You aren't. Kill me, if you feel the need, and move on. What's the /flex and /guffaw going to get you? Is that floating your boat? Ain't that sad? (Hint: It is.)

I got better and then got to the Post and we took on the mission to get some rep with the Centaurs. We choose to help the Gelkis against the Magram and set out to the Magram village. We've also got to kill a Khan of the Kolkar and attend to that mission first. Easy enough. We quickly track down the Khan in his tent (sneaky Khan has almost as many palaces as Saddam) and kill him. We then move back to the Magram village and start killing them. It's nice because they don't find us enemies yet. So we approach them one by one and dispatch them just as quick. We keep our eyes open for any Alliance but it's good so far.

We kill Magram and I find a few metal veins to mine. We discover a ravine in which are some Felhunters wandering about. I'd never found these before! Were these new to the world? Part of some larger epic? Or had they always been here and I missed them in my haste to be gone from this desolate corner of the world?

As we moved through the camp, become ever more hated by the Magram and more liked by the Gelkis we left off at one kill up on a small hillock. There below was a Gnome Warrior. Shiny Whirlwind Axe on his back. Level 33. Now he stopped and paused. When I crested the hill I think he reconsidered anything and moved away at something of a high rate of speed. He vanished into the distance. We two could have taken him out. Would he have deserved a /flex and a /guffaw like I'd gotten? No, not really. We're two, he's one. We didn't even follow him. I kept my eyes open afterwards because sneaky snake Alliance are fond of interrupting fights and getting the killing move in after a mob has done all the prep work. We were two, he was one. Had we attacked he'd have sent the /yell out that he'd just been "Ganked by two Horde!" and that just leads to more hassle than his one HK was worth. He moved on, we continued on, and got to Friendly with the Gelkis.

We journeyed back to the coast and the Gelkis Village and spoke with their seer. She gave us a new quest to go collect some bags of meat from the Magram Village. But it was late and we decided not to start a new quest. But I was half a bar from level 38 so I convinced Droonda to stay a bit longer and help me get the last of the xp I needed. We moved to the entrance of the Maradaun Ravine. There we fought level 38 Centaurs and Scorpids.

I was nearly to level 38 when there came a scattershot from off the screen at me and Droonda! Turning to look I find a Dwarf Hunter, level ??. (But, of course.) This appeared to have concussed me so I walked up to him and began swinging. At the same time I asked Droonda to turn into Ghostwolf and make her way back to the safety of Shadowprey Village. As I die I see I have managed to get a Hamstring on the Dwarf. He hobbles back the way he came in, seemingly in pursuit of Droonda, but she was long gone. Having reached level 33 while fighting the Magram she returned to the Undercity to get the quest from Varamthes to go visit the Scarlet Monastery and dispatch the psychos there ensconced.

I returned to my body and moved down to Shadowprey and hunted a few more lobsters along the coast until I'd finally dinged 38.

You know, at level 40, when I finally get my mount, this all changes. I won't be caught by some Rogue riding past and dismounting and stealth sprinting back to me. I'll have some respite from this.

But all this ganking by smart-alecky ??'s really put the ache in me to get Darkhoof and go to Redridge and while swimming in the waters of lake with my hydrocane staff one-shot frostshock Alliance noobs as they tried to hunt murlocs. But then I'm not wired like that. I took a pass on that thought, you can too!, and got onto my Night Elf Warrior character over on Kirin Tor and did a few calm quests outside of Darnassus. Screeching harpies is easier on the nerves.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Bummer. They downed Majordomo Executus without me.


It was the Saturday where the raid starts early and I can never make those. This time everything was cleared to Sulfuron (we got Golemag Friday night and I was there for that).

Seems my guild downed Sulfuron and the Majordomo. We'd reached him last Saturday when I was along. And this next week he went down. We rock! Nothing really great dropped (three trifling epics is all) and I missed nothing except being there when the Majordomo was taken down.

Friday night I managed to score the Earthfury Epaulets. These are a nice replacement for the television antenna Pauldrons of the Elements.

And this weekend I can look forward to going all the way! Maybe Ragnaros will get his this week. You never know with us.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Cautionary Tale.

There is a funny story associated with my new header graphic. It's sunset in Azshara as taken from Lord Hydraxis' island.

I'd gone out to the Island in search of the Lord in order to conclude the last of my current business with the Hydraxian Waterlords. This involved turning in the hands of several of the Fire Lords found in the Molten Core. Lucifron, Gehennas, Shazzrah, and Sulfuron. Following our successful guild run last week I'd gotten all four hands. So I made the long run out to the island. Lacking the necessary fish oil to run across the wave tops I instead swam, equipping my Hydrocane (gotten so many levels ago in Gnomeregan) to enable water breathing.

Turning in the hands the Lord told me my reward was to be found in below the waves to the south of the island. I jumped in from the height and there it was. A large stone box. I opened it and claimed my Tidal Loop Ring. Not the greatest of rings but with the Fire Resistance a welcome addition to my inventory.

I returned to the top of the island and remarked how beautiful the scene was with the sun setting behind the Elven ruins. And so it occured to me to pose a few shots so I could use one of them for the header here. I turned off my interface and danced a little, rotated a little, jumped, preened, etc., and took several shots. The fun ended when I found myself turned into a sheep.

By the time you've been sheeped you can count on losing more than half you health in the next few moments.

Again, in no mood to play with a Gnome Mage, I moved into the water where I died. I watched the mage swim back to the island. Now, here was my 2nd downfall: I saw a second set of legs kicking in the water above. But they were moving TOWARDS the island. I waited for a bit and ankhed. I was immediately gouged and killed by a stealthed Night Elf Rogue. Sigh. Sneaky snakes. All gnomes and enemy rogues must die.

I'd gotten the water to douse the fires in the Molten Core, used in summoning the Majordomo, and I simply took the Spirit Healers offer and hearthed back to Kargath.

The guild was gathered to enter Molten Core again. The timers reset all the usual mobs were there. It's becoming, happily, routine, and we moved to Lucifron and Magmadar finishing the hound, and the raid for the night, in record time. Our plan is to run the first two bosses on a weeknight, and Friday night is the big push into the Core, and Saturday see how much further we get. (Last Saturday we stood at last before the Majordomo.)

On this run a pair of Salamander Scale Pants dropped. Leather, with +Int, +Sta, and most important for me, +51 healing and 9 mana regen/5 s.

I want my Earthfury Set of course. Magmadar drops the Earthfury Leggards but he didn't this time. And when would he? (I've been on numerous Baron runs and never once saw the Elements leggings drop.) And when they asked for bids on this none of the Druids wanted it. They were going to disenchant it?? They kept saying "Oh, those are Druid pants." One Druid was being played by his brother and I guess he wasn't sure of his brothers plans for the character. The other was feral specc'd for BG goodness and wasn't interested. I had over 400 dkp and these were only about 100 so I thought, why not? (I'd already lost the roll for a pair of Earthfury Gauntlets that run.)

And if you look at the stats, the pants have less stamina and intellect, certainly much less armor, but they have the Molten Core Friendly Fire Resist bonus (the Earthfury has Shadow Resist??), and they have +51 Healing vs. the leggards +12 spells and healing, and 9mana/5s vs. 6.

So, I could afford it DKP wise, I'll certainly use it (#1 in healing on every Molten Core run I've ever been on), and putting them on with the rest of my fire resist gear and I'm at "Fair" when it comes to fire resistance, before I drop a Fire Resist Totem or get Mark of the Wild. Not shabby.

Back to my earlier admonition: If you're posing for photographs have some friends watch your back.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Solo Warrior needs bandaids.

Droonda and Oddity were accompanied by Ona, a guild Shaman, as we took on Razorfen Kraul. We needed to wait for Droonda to get to level 32 so we could do all three quests there. Get Razorflank's Heart (which I'd done already) for someone in Thunderbluff, gather a sample of bat guano for the silly alchemist in the UC, and take some gophers in to gather blue tubers for the goblin in Ratchet.

I enjoy Razorfen Kraul. As I already related, with a group of five, this was a simple enough dungeon crawl. The pigs are rarely in groups larger than two. Cleave with a big axe works wonders here. And Ona can heal and deal damage. It was fun. He'd launch a chain lightning and I'd charge in. I'd hamstring runners until I could outright land an execute on them. Droonda stayed in back and was primarily our healer and cast earthshock to disrupt casters and frostshock to slow runners. Ona had been through once or twice so we took on the mini-bosses. Those Death guys. Droonda got herself a wonderful blue axe out of the deal. It didn't take long and we'd gotten the last boss and no small amount of loot. I think Droonda enjoyed it. I remembered her early days in Ragefire Chasm and she had gotten quite stressed with all the activity going on. She's much more confident now, and she should be! She's a Shaman. A Shaman with some big friends. That never hurts.

We concluded the foray into Razorfen Kraul by escorting a goblin held prisoner back out. The path we took constituted of a line of armored boars which we'd already cleared. A few additional boars charged from out of nowhere but they were quickly dealt with. Quest reward, a +6 ring, I took the Agility one, I soon sold to a vendor.

Outside we waved goodbye to Droonda as she headed north to the Crossroads and Ratchet. Ona and I had one more mission to accomplish. There was a renegade Forsaken to be found across the Gold Road in Razorfen Downs named Ambassador Malcin. We entered the Downs and tracked down Malcin, but I died before I could take his head. Ona resurrected me but I was quickly tracked down and died again. The second time I was rezz'd I moved clear away and up a thorn and sat overlooking Malcin's tent and Ona. We waited and waited and waited. Ona told me about his past life in another place where he played a Dark Knight and the adventures there amongst the stars. Malcin wasn't going to reappear it seemed. Ona went out and found Malcin had moved tents! We found him and this time I got his head. Success. I returned to the Undercity and returned the head to Varimithas, the bat guano to the apothecary, and then all the way back up to Ratchet to turn in the blue tubers. I've found the next quest now, and that's to pay Razorfen Downs a visit and kill the Lich there.

Oh, yes, almost forgot my point. If you're a Warrior you'd better be good at making bandages. Lately, when I've had a bit of spare time I'll run up to the Scarlet Monastery and beat up on those punk Crusaders. They're elite so they'll do a little bit of damage. After every third fight I apply a good heavy silk bandage and then move on. What's nice is in addition to dropping lots of loot, they also drop the silk I use to make the bandages I need in order to keep killing them. That's pretty much come to a stop now that I've dinged 37. I'll have to get Droonda up a few levels and then we'll head out to Desolace. That's a change of scenery for Droonda. (And being a Shaman we'll have it easy with her casting water breathing on us. :)

Monday, January 9, 2006

S. A. TUR. DAY. Night

We completed another three bosses in Molten Core. Shazzrah we took on in his own room. Sulforon, a first for me, and Golemag, who appears to be quite easy. What was difficult was getting any loot for a Shaman! :)

Friday, January 6, 2006

Alliance to the right of them,
Alliance to the left of them,
Alliance in front of them,
Suff'ring blades from the shadows
Storm'd at with magical hell
Boldly they rode and well
Into the Molten Core
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the Requiem Forty.

Darkhoof entered Molten Core tonight. Many hours later left following Baron Geddon's demise. 5 bosses isn't a bad run for us.

The Earthfury Epaulets dropped but I was outbid by another Shaman. Sigh. All the DKP in the world won't help you win a roll.


Later Oddity recovered his body in the waters outside of Nesingwary's Camp in Stranglethorn Vale. He'd been left there by a trio from some Alliance guild, a warrior, a rogue, and some other such. On coming back, finding the surroundings empty, he proceeded to engage the young tigers and panthers for the first of the hunting quests. When all of a sudden along comes a 40 dwarf hunter. Sure enough if I were to wave I'd be ganked. If I ignored him I'd be ganked. Now I was on a tiger, and a panther caught wind oh him, and of a sudden this cat comes out of stealth to attack me. I allow some rage to be built up and then fear them. This cat flees and I kill the tiger. I'm in no mood for PvP so I move on into the jungle.

Well the Hunter proceeds to put a Hunter's Mark on me. So, I knew I'd shortly have a cat on my butt and he'd be firing arrows at me from afar. Sure enough, a concussive shot hit me. Then, oddly, he starts waving. I proceed to cut him down, landing an execute that drops him to the jungle floor.

If the Hunter's Mark was to get my attention, and the concussive shot merely to slow me so he could approach, and the wave a sincere indication of friendship, then I appear to have overreacted and for that I'd apologize.

But after the earlier ganking I'd gotten from the trio, and the Hunter's Mark is a slap in the face of an enemy, I was in no mood to die over the matter.

I hate Gank Nesingwary's.

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

35 with a Bang Howdy.

Well, on reaching level 34 I was very confident my wife and I could handle a little questing in Thousand Needles. She was a level 29 Shaman and I was a Warrior with a big freaking axe and a healer along for company. So we met in Orgrimmar after she'd completed a successful run through Shadow Fang Keep with Darkhoof, her mentor.

From there we, she and Oddity, hopped on some Wyverns and flew up to Thunderbluff in Mulgore.

Oddity and Droonda above the hills of Mulgore.

Mulgore. It's beautiful countryside. I love the ambient sounds of nature, the pine trees, the chill blue pools, the high walls enclosing the area like a mother's loving embrace. Thunderbluff itself is quite nice. Awesome vistas from the bluffs overlooking the green plains and the wandering kodo and striders. One doesn't feel more in tune with nature than visiting Thunderbluff. It stands to reason that the Tauren race undertook the mysteries of the Druids. This is also where the Horde comes to train in guns. Peace, and the means to keep it, at least in this corner of the world.

To be forever on the run from the Scourge, or the other, newer, evils that are arising just now, just doesn't seem right. Perhaps Draenor can't be recreated, and is forever lost now, but perhaps a spot can be found here on Azeroth where folks can raise their little ones in line with their own creeds. Mulgore seems a beautiful spot for it. Wasn't that all Thrall wanted for his clan? That and, perhaps, a little revenge?

It was a quiet day when we arrived at Freewind Post there in Thousand Needles. And there were quests aplenty to undertake. A dedicated Warrior with a healing Shaman to support him made short work of everything thrown before us. We raided Grimtotem Village for the documents. We returned to rescue a young Tauren woman. We returned yet again to summon a monstrously large windserpent. We returned one more time to relight the summoning fire, and again slay the windserpet. We tracked down an alien egg, we hunted down a hyena of some strength, we raided the Harpies outpost, and we raided the centaur outpost, and we started the Tests. Droonda completed the Tests to the point of visiting the Scarlet Monastery, and Oddity later completed that part as well.

It was a glorious day. During the quests and the running around Droonda dinged 30! Congratulations, my dear. She returned to Orgrimmar and Oddity moved on to the Undercity where he would wait for an expedition into the Scarlet Monastery. But Droonda was not quite done yet for her level 30 Shaman quest returned her to Thousand Needles. Darkhoof accompanied her, gentleman cow that he is, and dispatched a sneaky snake level 43 Night Elf Rogue that was prowling around. She got her new Air Totem and we returned back to the safety and warmth of Orgrimmar.

Later that day the battles got more intense.

Oddity with his new Sword of Omen.

The shield shown, the Commanders Crest which I won by slaying Commander Springvale in Shadow Fang Keep, is of lesser rank now, and I only keep it because 1) It goes with the white and light gold Illuminati guild colors, and 2) I can't use the Aegis of the Scarlet Commander yet, for which I'll have to be level 39 first. Until then it is stored in the bank. And before that, at level 37, I'll be able to use Herod's own Ravager, taken from his dead fingers, a very slick looking two-handed battle axe. With these in the bank is Herod's Helmet as well.

I got all this phat loot after I entered the Scarlet Monastery, at the behest of Varimathras, with some good friends. Carlspackler, the largest Warrior I know, a Tauren wielding a Halbeard of Smiting. Lexia, Mage extraordinaire, and keeper of every pet I'm familiar with, including Murky, a Murloc orphan who she's trained to dance the most delightful little ditty. Gambi, Priest, decurser and healer, and not your usual undead. Oddity left there, enriched and enthralled with the warrior ethos, level 35.

Oddity was already wearing the Scarlet Boots, the Scarlet Gauntlets, and the Scarlet Wristguards from the Auction House. He acquired the Ravager on an earlier run with Egan the Warlock, and Ona the Shaman, and the Helm on this run. A friend has the level 32 Scarlet Belt and promised them to me.

What he has left to acquire at the Monastery are the level 34 Scarlet Chestpiece, level 37 Herod's Shoulder, and the level 38 Scarlet Leggings off Herod.

And then, before I know it, I'll be level 40 wearing Plate and riding a wolf.

Walk tall, follow three level 60 guildies, and you can't go wrong.