The pretentious-sounding title of this post is exactly that — pretending. Rather than a true literary/scholarly critical analysis of the sort you might find at Ironyca Stood in the Fire or Flavor Text, this is a list, more or less, of my thoughts, opinions, and lingering questions regarding the events of Tides of War and the Theramore’s Fall scenario.
In the weeks and months following the destruction of Theramore, it became the fashion among Gnomish women to wear pink pigtails — even if they had no personal acquaintance with or connection to Kinndy Sparkeshine or her family.
Whatever the pre-expansion launch event that would only be doable with a max-level character was going to be, I wanted to do it with characters on both sides of the faction fence this time around. I have had my Human Mage, Kinevra, hearthed in Theramore since late Wrath, so knowing what the event was going to be, Kinevra was definitely the most lore-appropriate choice of Alliance character to power level for it. I have worked quite hard over the past couple of weeks to get her leveled and prepared to do the event. After she was all ready to queue for Theramore’s Fall, I hearthed her “home” to Theramore one last time, and suddenly found myself strangely reluctant to actually queue for the scenario with her — to allow her to experience her home being destroyed. But then, living through the destruction of your character’s home, and never being able to truly go home again, is the main plotline of the Goblin and Worgen starting experiences….
The Horde-side scenario was exactly what I expected it to be from the book: the players take the role of the strike force that slaughters the gryphon roost and extracts the traitor Thalen Songweaver. I didn’t really know, from the book, quite what to expect the Alliance scenario to be. I don’t remember anything exactly like what it was in the book, but it was awesome to see Jaina all RAWR!. Without the context provided by the book, or that might have been provided by one-off breadcrumb and bookending quests, however, I might have been more confused about what exactly was going on. I did think it was a nice touch that the Horde scenario ends and the Alliance scenario begins with the same cinematic of the mana bomb dropping. After questing through several Cataclysm zones, the degree to which the two versions of the scenario were parallel was not at all surprising. Although the Theramore’s Fall scenarios weren’t exactly ZOMB EPIC!!!! like the pre-launch events from previous expansions, as a preview of the scenario format itself, they work quite well. They were quick and fun to play through, and I look forward to doing more scenarios in Pandaria.
After the scenario, Kinevra’s hearthstone still takes her to Theramore… it drops her in the pit right where the inn used to be. Likewise, porting to Theramore drops her (from a little higher in the air) into a different spot in the crater.
Next, I wondered, “where’s Jaina now?” Based on the events of the book, I first looked in Dalaran. No Jaina, but look, Archmage Rhonin, I haz ur staff! I looked inside the Keep in Stormwind. No Jaina. I looked at Fray Island. Lots of living pirates, no Jaina. Where in the world is Jaina Proudmoore? Even WoWhead and Wowpedia don’t know.
Soon after Patch 5.0, I observed that Marcus Jonathan was no longer outside the gates of Stormwind. I wondered if this meant that we might find him somewhere in Pandaria. When he showed up in Theramore in Tides of War, I began to have a very bad feeling about his fate, which sadly was confirmed. If there is a new Marcus steamy romance novel (or two) in Pandaria, does this then refute the Marcus = Marcus Jonathan hypothesis?
The recent novels seem to be killing off major and minor lore figures right and left! Will Krasus, Rhonin, and Tiras’alan eventually be removed from their current in-game locations — if not for everyone, then at least for characters who have completed the Theramore’s Fall scenario? Will characters who have completed the Theramore’s Fall scenario ever see Jaina in Dalaran instead of Rhonin?
If the destruction of Theramore will become a permanent feature of the world map in Patch 5.1, with corresponding adjustments to the questing in Dustwallow Marsh, will similar changes be made for Northwatch Hold, Fort Triumph, and the Razor Hill Inn?
Although the romance between Jaina and Kalec does seem a little contrived, I think they are a good match and that the progression of their relationship was handled well — but then, I’m a bit of a hopeless romantic. I sincerely hope that neither Kalec nor Jaina will become a barnacle on the other as the story of WoW continues to evolve, but that each will remain a strong, independent character.
Does the dispersion of the Blue Dragonflight make Tarecgosa’s sacrifice more or less meaningful? She gave her life to save the flight, and now the flight, as an organization, no longer exists. But without her actions, the flight would not have had the choice to stay together or disband at all.
It made me glad to see Varian and Anduin reconciling and being able to express trust and love towards one another.
Did Aethas Sunreaver know that Thalen Songweaver was going to betray Theramore? Did he really feel betrayed by Songweaver’s actions, too, or was he just playing a part? His words and actions in the novel could be interpreted either way.
I was amused, in a sardonic sort of way, by how Golden lampshaded the similarities between the events in Stonetalon Mountain and the destruction of Theramore.
I also appreciated the conversation between Vol’jin and Baine where Baine is grumbling about Malkorok and Garrosh’s decision to grant amnesty to Blackrock Orcs who were willing to swear loyalty to him (and the Horde), and Vol’jin asks how that’s different from Baine’s own decision to grant amnesty to Grimtotem Tauren who were willing to swear loyalty to him (and the Horde), and Baine gets all uncomfortable and says, basically, “it just is“. Baine’s decision is a rather important personal plot point for Kregga, who is an ex-Grimtotem. That conversation also becomes more interesting in light of the Best Buy developer Q&A tidbit that, in connection with the model updates for the original races, the development team is considering making it possible to play as sub-races such as the Mag’har Orcs or Wildhammer Dwarves — what if it would also be able to play as a Dragonmaw Orc? Then, with that grey skin, it would not be a big leap to RP as a Blackrock, rather than a Dragonmaw.
Speaking of the Dragonmaw, Garrosh would have turned out a lot better, in my opinion, if the gray-skinned orc by his side was Zaela of the Dragonmaw, rather than this Malkorok of the Blackrock.
And speaking of Malkorok, I really really really hope we get to kill him, too, in the Siege of Orgrimmar raid — if not as a separate boss or mini-boss encounter, at least as an add in the Garrosh fight!
Some further thoughts on Theramore’s Fall…
Although I am not upset about the way the destruction of Theramore is being handled in-game in the raging angry way that much of the rest of the WoW blogosphere seems to be, there are things about the Theramore’s Fall scenarios that I think could have been done better.
For one thing, in the Alliance version, where are all the bodies? Darkshore/Auberdine, Silverwind Refuge in Ashenvale, and Camp Taurajo are incredibly moving, at least for someone who played through those zones pre-Cataclysm, because you see the bodies of characters you knew lying there dead on the ground. I wept the first time I played through the Alliance side of Theramore’s Fall because I have written (though not yet posted) a backstory for my Human Mage that she is from Theramore, that she’s called it home for the past four or five years of her life. I was kind of expecting, however, to see Pained and other named characters who died lying around the ruined city, the way Jaina found them when she went back, and I was rather disappointed that we didn’t. It made the killing of an entire city feel too clean and less emotionally impacting than it could have been.
For another, it felt very artificial to just be notified of the scenario being available and then to queue for it. I agree with those who say there should have been some lead-in and follow-up quests to help frame the scenarios, and perhaps also more RP/lore presentation within the scenarios themselves (skippable if you’ve done it already, of course).
And I absolutely am sad and disappointed that there is nothing else in the way of a pre-launch event, nothing that a low level character can do or participate in. Erinys’s suggestions for how a world event about Theramore could have been done are fantastic.
As a Tauren partisan, I’ve been increasingly uncomfortable with having to be Horde if I want to be Tauren due to Garrosh and Sylvanas’s actions for all of Cataclysm, and it’s only getting worse. I, too, am revolted, appalled, and disgusted by Garrosh’s method of destruction of Theramore. I did the Horde-side scenario first with my DK, because she has the best in-character motivations to participate in such a thing. Then I did it with my Druid, because I wanted to try to stealth into the tower to see Jaina and Rhonin and Kalec. I failed at that because I’m not sneaky enough, so I guess I’ll just have to pinch Cymre and Navimie’s screenshots. I don’t think I’m going to do the level 85 version of the scenario with the rest of my Horde 85s. They don’t need tasteless mini mana bombs rattling around in their void storage. I might go do it with them at 90, but then again, the world map will permanently change in 5.1 anyway, so maybe I won’t.