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Archive for the ‘Night Fae/Ardenweald’ Category

This weekend, I finished leveling Kaelyla. By the time she’d seen the vision of Ysera’s death and done the next two quests, she was 98% through level 59. At that point, I took her to Oribos and activated Threads of Fate. After completing next couple of quests to talk to Lady Moonberry, she was so close to dinging that I just went and did a little gathering to push it over instead of working on the “Aiding Ardenweald” fill-the-bar quest. I got her through Chapter 1 of the Night Fae campaign; now she’s gathering Renown, Souls, and Anima and waiting for Patch 9.1 to arrive so that she can not have to go to Torghast.

One reason I chose the Night Fae for Kaelyla — or Kaelyla for the Night Fae — is because of the aesthetic similarities I saw between the Void Elves and Ardenweald. I created her “Full of Stars” outfit (#37) to highlight those aesthetic harmonies —

— and specifically to coordinate with the animacone backpack that is an on-quest visual effect for the quest “Tending to Wildseeds” at the Tranquil Pools adjacent to Tirna Vaal.

There are a number of other nifty on-quest visual effects during the Ardenweald main storyline, so I ended up taking many, many screenshots of this outfit. I’ve put the ones from “Tending to Wildseeds” in the outfit listing on the appropriate “Things My Void Elf Mage Wears” page. To keep that page from getting overcrowded, I’ve gathered the rest of my favorite pictures of this outfit in this gallery — click through the cut to see them all!
(more…)

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I did Chapter 5 of the Venthyr campaign with Kaelinda this weekend — halfway done! The storytelling is well done, and it’s been generally enjoyable, but somehow other things, like Anima farming and schoolwork and sleep, keep getting in the way. I’m holding off on doing the rest of the Night Fae campaign with Kaurinka until I’ve completed the Venthyr campaign with Kaelinda.

I abandoned the Torghast questchain. I’ll come back to it, at least long enough for Kaelinda to rescue Jaina*, after I’ve finished the Venthyr campaign. With Kaurinka, I did the Torghast quest that rewards an ilevel 171 cloak**, but I didn’t pick up the next quest.

I spend most of the school nights of the week doing Callings, prioritizing Anima reward WQs, until I’ve collected my 1000 Anima. I know I could collect the 1000 Anima faster if I did the World Boss*** and the dungeon quests from the Brokers in Oribos every week… but I don’t. After I’ve Replenished the Reservoir, I’ll usually pick up the Callings, but I may or may not get around to doing them. I’ve decided to not even pick up the “Storm the Maw” Calling, though, because I know that I’m not going to do it. Tuesday night is Maw night, but I only spend as long in the Maw as I need to fill up my Soulkeeper, and then I’m outta there.

Kaelinda typically finishes the 1000 Anima quest sooner, and has more Anima in her Sanctum Reservoir overall, than Kaurinka does. The Greater Greedstone and the Bad Bat always drop Anima tokens#. The Large Lunarlight Pod only rarely contains Anima tokens — usually just money, sometimes gear — and the first few times I attempted the Star Lake Ampitheater, the bosses mopped the stage floor with my feathery Boomkin body, so I don’t even try them anymore. Although the Night Fae Travel Network dailies offset this a little bit, overall, Kaurinka’s Night Fae Anima acquisition rate is slower than Kaelinda’s Venthyr Anima acquisition rate.

Both Kaelinda and Kaurinka have both channels of their stage 1 Anima Conductor reinforced by now. I haven’t purchased any more Sanctum Upgrades, however, because I’m saving the Anima for upgrading their Covenant armor sets. I suppose I could do the arithmetic for how much Anima I’d need for that and purchase other upgrades when I’ll be able to keep that amount in reserve. I haven’t quite decided yet, however, whether I’d rather do the second stage of the Travel Network or the second stage of the Anima Conductor first. On the one hand, the second stage is as far as I intend to go with the Anima Conductor, so then I’d be done with that##. On the other hand, I already feel like I have too many things to do, and having more Travel Network locations available may be more useful. With that in mind, I’ve decided to save activating the Special Feature Game for each Covenant until after I’ve finished its campaign.

I’m starting to be quite curious what the treasure and encounter from the stage 1 Anima Conductor channels for the Kyrian and the Necrolords are, so that I can compare their Anima yields and difficulties to the Venthyr and Night Fae versions (please don’t tell me, I want to find out for myself!). I’m starting to see casual references to the endings of the 9.0 Covenant campaigns, too. These things make me want to spend time leveling Keliora and Kalaneia…

And then there’s Blizzcon hovering on the horizon, and the expectation of a Patch 9.1 announcement. With how slow my progress has been so far, I doubt that there will be enough time between now and the launch of Patch 9.1 for me to manage to complete all four 9.0 Covenant campaigns by then, but I at least ought to be able to proceed into the 9.1 extension of the Venthyr campaign.

~*~*~
* I might just go ahead and spoil myself on the rest of it, including that Anduin and Sylvanas cinematic

** that was too much of an upgrade to pass up, and I will do at least that much of Torghast with my remaining alts, as well

*** maybe I’ll do the World Bosses more often when I can fly to the boss location instead of having to run through all that hostile territory to get there from the nearest flight point…

# one or the other of them frequently drops a shiny for Ta’xera, too

## after spending another 500 Anima over 20 days to reinforce the third and fourth channel locations, that is

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As I’ve been bopping around in the Shadowlands with Kaelinda and Kaurinka, I’ve discovered that I have specific mounts that I prefer for each zone. In Ardenweald, of course I’m using the Wildseed Cradle. In Bastion, since I’m not anywhere close to being Exalted with The Ascended and being able to get the Gilded Prowler, I’m using the Winged Guardian. In Maldraxxus, I like my Gilded Ravasaur because I think it expresses primal might and apex power while also being pleasing to look at. In Revendreth, Kaelinda prefers her Creeping Carpet, while Kaurinka has chosen the Crimson Direhorn*, and Keliora and Kalaneia will use the Swift Red Hawkstrider. Kaelyla has chosen the Fossilized Raptor for Maldraxxus and the Smoky Charger for Revendreth.

Have you chosen mounts to fit the ambiance of the Shadowlands zones, or are you just continuing to ride your old standbys?

~*~*~

Update, March 2021:
After Kaelinda reached Exalted with the Court of Harvesters and purchased the Court Sinrunner, she tried it out for awhile, then went back to her Creeping Carpet for riding around Revendreth. Keliora and Kalaneia still plan to use their Swift Red Hawkstriders, but Kaelyla and Kaurinka have switched to the Court Sinrunner for Revendreth. I’ve switched everyone to the Fossilized Raptor for Maldraxxus — it’s far and away the best fit for the place of the mounts I already have. And everyone is still using the Winged Guardian for Bastion and the Wildseed Cradle for Ardenweald. Someday I’ll get to Exalted with the Ascended and get the Gilded Prowler for Bastion; the Wildseed Cradle for Ardenweald isn’t likely to change, ever.
end of Update

~*~*~

A question in a recent Blizzard Watch Queue asked if the Queue writer of the day/Queue commenters were spending their Anima on Sanctum upgrades or Covenant Armor upgrades. The Queue writer answered that she’d been spending it on Covenant Armor upgrades, and hadn’t upgraded any of the Sanctum features to stage 2 yet. That sounds like a rather good idea, actually, since with my very slow, meandering playstyle, Covenant Armor upgrades will be the path of least resistance to improving my gear. Of course, that means I have to actually finish my Covenant campaigns and get all of my base Covenant Armor sets…. Kaelinda is still stalled out at the beginning of Chapter 4 of the Venthyr campaign. I finally managed to push Kaurinka through Chapter 2 of the Night Fae campaign, though. By now both of them have their Renown more or less high enough that they could get to Renown 22 and access the final chapter of their Covenant campaigns just by powering through all the other chapters — so perhaps I should prioritize/focus on that for the next couple of weeks.

I’ve noticed — as I’m sure everyone else has by now — that the Calling each day is the same the for all of the Covenants. Everybody gets “Fill the Bar in Ardenweald”, or “Do 3 World Quests in Maldraxxus”, or whatever. I’ve also noticed that Callings tend to “stack” — one day will be “Fill the Bar in Zone A” and the next day will be “Do 3 World Quests in Zone A”, or something similar. I’ll often do Callings in my Covenant zone — Revendreth for Kaelinda and Ardenweald for Kaurinka — immediately, but wait for Callings in other zones to stack before I go do them.

Kaelinda has been having an easier time of finishing the 1000 Anima weekly lately, it seems. She’s got her Anima Conductor channel to the special treasure permanently activated and has been doing the special enemy channel (SMASH BAD BAT!!) for about a week. Kaurinka just permanently activated her special treasure channel; I’m looking forward to activating the special enemy channel, since I’ve read that for Night Fae, it’s encore performances at the theatre.

Now that I’ve run the easymode version of a Torghast wing in which Baine is found for Chapter 2 of the Covenant campaign twice, I’m not worried about getting through it with any of the rest of my characters. I still think I’ll only pursue the full Torghast quest chain from Bolvar with one character, though. Kaelinda does want to rescue Jaina, at least — eventually. I think my difficulty with both Torghast and the Maw is that I find them to be… tedious.

Meanwhile, I’ve also gotten distracted by collecting the armor sets from World Quests not for their potential to improve my item level but rather for their appearances. Just as with the leveling gear, each zone has its own recolor of the World Quest/Dungeon gear. With Kaelinda, I’m trying to get all of them, but with Kaurinka, I’m only going to get the Ardenweald set.

~*~*~

* These are the mounts that Kaurinka uses when she’s not Prowling in Cat Form, that is. She tends to spend most of her ground travel time in Cat Form, unless she’s going a relatively long distance along a road.

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In Bastion, Kaelinda had been dismayed that becoming Kyrian meant taking on a new form, even if that form was beautiful to look upon. The waiting Aspiring Souls, at least, had retained recognizable forms; well, the ones from Azeroth had been recognizable; souls from other worlds had appeared as blurry, generically humanoid shapes.

She recalled that she had observed the same phenomenon during her initial, relatively brief, sojourn in the Maw. When she and Jaina and Thrall had liberated souls from the Tremaculum, souls from Azeroth had appeared in their own shapes, whereas souls from other worlds had been featureless ghosts.

Kaelinda wondered if souls from other worlds saw their fellows from their own worlds as recognizable individuals and Azerothian souls as blurs.

In Maldraxxus, the forms of the inhabitants were horrific — how could any soul be satisfied to spend the eternities in such shapes? — and she saw no blur-shaped waiting souls. She wondered how the few individuals whom she recognized from Azeroth whom she had met in Maldraxxus had maintained their own forms. Would a soul from Baron Vyraz’s world see Baron Vyraz in his own form as she saw Baroness Draka in her own form, and see Baroness Draka in the generic female Chosen warrior form as she saw Baron Vyraz in the generic male Chosen warrior form?

In Ardenweald, ordinary souls — those who were not great nature spirits of their worlds, placed into wildseeds to be regenerated and returned — took on the forms of animals, apparently of their own choosing. Yet the Night Fae claimed to see so many races from so many worlds that they didn’t immediately recognize her race or her world origin. When she helped Choofa restore animal forms to his friends, Kaelinda saw their souls in the same blurry forms that she had observed in Bastion. It seemed, therefore, that when ordinary souls originally arrived in Ardenweald, they appeared in their own forms until they chose their animal shapes. If only she could see a newly-arrived soul from Azeroth! And then, somewhat to her surprise, she did. At Hibernal Hollow, she saw Night Elf souls, seemingly come from the burning of Teldrassil*, still in their own forms.

In Revendreth, Kaelinda saw many suffering souls in the same blurry form that she’d seen elsewhere. Occasionally, however, when confronted, some of them transformed into shapes she recognized — Orcs, Hozen, even Arakkoa — which she’d only seen on Outland or Draenor. Curious.

It seemed to be a general property of the Shadowlands that an individual could only see souls from their own world — or maybe worlds they had visited? — in their own shapes, and all other souls would appear in a shape governed by the particular sub-realm of the Shadowlands to which the Arbiter had assigned them.

~*~*~

From an OOC standpoint, of course this is what the developers are doing. It would be extremely labor-intensive to create hundreds of new character models and dialogue flavor text to explain a little about the dozens of worlds that they are from. It’s still fun, though, to think about an in-character rationalization for the phenomenon, and to ask some of the questions that might arise from trying to figure it out.

~*~*~

* But how did they get there, instead of being funneled into the Maw? Had they been rescued from the Maw somehow… by Tyrande, perhaps?

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With doubled-up Callings to Maldraxxus this week, I finally made it back to the place — and it still grosses me out. I’m so glad that I don’t have to smell what my poor characters must be smelling!

~*~*~

They said that we wouldn’t need the Flight Whistle because we’d be spending most of our time in the zone associated with our Covenant choice and the Travel Network would make getting around that zone easier. I still miss the Flight Whistle, though. I think that statement from the devs (was it from Hazzikostas, even?) misunderstands what the Flight Whistle is really for. The Flight Whistle is for quickly and easily getting out of the depths of some WQ area once you’ve completed the quest requirements, so that you don’t have to fight your way back out to the road through all the respawns.

~*~*~

I am struggling with prioritizing all the things available to do.

Kaelinda has reached Renown 10 and has accepted the starter quest for Chapter 4 of the Venthyr campaign, but I keep deciding to do Callings and WQs instead. The “get 1000 Anima” weekly has not been exactly trivial for me. I spend a lot of time chasing Anima WQs at the expense of playing through the next Chapter of my Covenant campaign — and I’ve had weeks where I didn’t quite make it because I didn’t feel like playing enough to clear all the available Anima WQs in all four zones. Is it better to prioritize getting Anima, to fill up the Sanctum Reservoir and increase my Renown, or would it be better to prioritize getting through the Covenant campaign story?

Kaurinka has reached Renown 11, but she is stalled out near the beginning of Chapter 2 — the you must do Torghast Chapter — of the Night Fae campaign, even though she knows that she’ll be rescuing Baine and does want to do so. Torghast hasn’t been quite as awful as I’d feared it might be, but it hasn’t tickled the “this is so fun!” spot for me, either. Kaelinda, who is currently Fire, managed not to die at all on her first true run through a Layer 1 wing of Torghast, though she did go through most of a stack of Mana Buns. I will probably not return there any more often than storyline quests send me there, and I may only complete the full questchain from Bolvar on one character (most likely Kaelinda).

I’ve decided that I should just go to the Maw more or less first thing on Tuesday evenings and rescue souls, then get out of there — ideally before my Eye of the Jailer even gets to 1. That, at least, will be a reliable source of Renown, and I’ll steadily collect the souls needed to lend their labor to Sanctum upgrades. If I’m spending as little time in the Maw and Torghast as possible, and only running Torghast on Layer 1 difficulty, repping up with Ve’nari to get stuff from her isn’t a high priority.

I decided to activate the Anima Conductor before activating the Special Feature and both characters are currently channeling anima to the location that has a special treasure. Each of them makes sure to go get their special treasure each day. So far, the Greater Greedstone has proved to be a reliable source of Anima tokens, but the Large Lunarlight Pod has mostly yielded Conduits — often duplicates of Conduits I already have.

With Anima being so scarce, I’m trying to decide how to manage my Sanctum upgrades. I’ve got the first stage of both the Travel Network and the Anima Conductor. Now, do I save up to upgrade one or the other of those things, or do I activate the first stage of the Special Feature?
I have made a tactical decision to ignore the Command Table entirely. I’ve got too many things competing for my attention already (especially if I decide to activate the Special Feature before upgrading the Travel Network or Anima Conductor). Besides, I’d rather save that precious Anima to spend on other things, such as upgrading the other Sanctum features, upgrading Covenant armor pieces, or acquiring the other tints of the Covenant armor and backpieces (once I’ve unlocked them).

~*~*~

And then there’s the other three characters who are patiently waiting in the wings in Oribos for their turns to level and choose their Covenants. I’m half-inclined to do it — to level them and play each of them through the first chapter of their chosen Covenant campaign and get them settled into their Sanctums — even though doing so will delay the progress of Kaelinda and Kaurinka through their Covenant campaigns. I think I might be able to resist doing anything else with them beyond the “rescue 5 souls from the Maw” weekly (and maybe the special treasures from the first stage of the Anima Conductor) until I’ve completed the Venthyr and Night Fae campaigns — especially with the you must do Torghast barrier of Chapter 2 of the Covenant campaign.

~*~*~

And then there’s Horizon Zero Dawn waiting for me on Steam. I got through most of the first area and to level 4 in my first play session before I looked at the clock and realized that I really ought to go to bed. I need to finish up the last couple of side-quests in the first area before I turn in my current main storyline quest, which I think will move me out of that area into the next one — the challenge and rewards of side-quests are really only worth doing while I’m still at-level for the area. The gameworld is beautiful, and I was genuinely enjoying exploring around — and since I’m playing it on Story mode, of course, the combat hasn’t been overly challenging (yet). I want to play more — if only I can resist auto-pilot logging into WoW to do dailies after my schoolwork is done each evening (Spring semester classes begin on Monday!).

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Since reaching level 60 with Kaelinda and Kaurinka, I’ve spent a lot of time in Revendreth and Ardenweald, of course, and also Bastion.

For all of its grim ambiance, Revendreth has proved to be rather entertaining. The severity of the treatment received by the souls there and the seriousness of the Campaign to defeat Sire Denathrius is counterbalanced by the droll commentary of the Dredgers and the cheerful insanity of Duke Theotar. The WQs in the Redelav district, messing with those hoity toity Venthyr nobles, are particularly fun.

Ardenweald also is a pleasing blend of seriousness and whimsy, perfectly exemplified by Lady Moonberry’s WQ to rain sparkly destruction on the Drust at Tirna Noch. The introduction play in the first chapter of the Night Fae questline was just as hilarious as I’d heard that was — especially the audience reactions.

Kaurinka spent a lot of time in Bastion because she had “Aid Bastion” from Threads of Fate partially finished when she dinged 60. Although she would no longer get Renown from completing it, the gold reward was still worth getting. Bastion has seemed less fun than the other two zones, though perhaps I just haven’t yet seen — or have simply not done because I wasn’t interested in the offered reward — its more light-hearted WQs.

I haven’t done a thing in Maldraxxus. I think I’ve only gotten a Calling to go to Maldraxxus once, and I didn’t manage to get out there to do it before it expired. I suppose I’ll discover its hidden delights eventually.

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Kaelinda blasted and burned her way through Ardenweald and didn’t have as much trouble with survival as I thought she might. Well, she did have to sit down and eat frequently, but with Mage Food, she wouldn’t run out.

Kaurinka didn’t ask Korenth to sing and dance, but Kaelinda did — and she was rewarded with some different conversation text when she turned in the quest to Lady Moonberry!

With Kaelinda, I noticed some neat visual effects during some of the quests that I’d completely missed with Kaurinka, perhaps because they didn’t show up on the Boomkin shapeshift. I’d been thinking about doing Threads of Fate from the beginning with Kaelya, who will pledge to the Night Fae, but now I want to level her through Ardenweald properly so I can take screenshots with those neat quest visuals — and maybe have a Mog to go with them!

Kaelinda was 65% through level 58 when she finished the main storyline of Ardenweald.

I continued immediately on to Revendreth — a zone which I will very likely only play completely through once. I didn’t do much there before I logged off for the night, though. First impressions: it’s like a mashup of Gilneas and the Forsaken town The Sepulcher, dialed up to, like, 13.

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Kaurinka felt like she already knew Ardenweald. One winter when she was an adolescent, she had gotten pneumonia and nearly died. She remembered little of her illness, except that it had seemed that while her body lay delirious in her tribe’s longhouse, her spirit had wandered freely over the dark, snowy landscape around the camp. Out of the corners of her eyes, she’d caught glimpses of towering, sigil-scribed trees with swirling, starry canopies, and underneath them, smaller trees, or maybe bushes, laden with glowing blue globes — but when she turned to try to look at them straight on, she saw only the normal, familiar trees. What was that place?, she had wondered many times during all the years that had followed. And now, here she was. If I had managed to find that place, and walk between those trees, she realized, I would have died.

~*~*~

I felt much weaker in Ardenweald than I had in Bastion or Maldraxxus. Enemies were harder to kill and took off more of my health in the process. I was using Regrowth more-or-less rotationally just to stay alive, which makes me rather worried for the survivability of my other characters.

Although I did a couple of side quests in Bastion with both Kaelinda and Kaurinka, I ignored side quests entirely in Maldraxxus. I wanted to know the whole story of Ardenweald with Kaurinka, so she did all the side quests. In the process, I discovered that for each zone, there’s one Achievement for completing the main storyline of the zone and another Achievement for doing all of the side quests* — and that both Achievements are required for each zone to complete the Loremaster meta-Achievement. Unlike Legion and Battle for Azeroth, side quests are not optional for Loremaster**! Fortunately, Loremaster is an account-wide meta-Achievement, so I can continue with my original plan of having the character who will pledge to the Covenant of each zone do its side quests — Keliora will do all the side quests of Bastion, Kalaneia will do all the side quests of Maldraxxus, and Kaelinda will do all the side quests of Revendreth — while all the others just barrel through the main questline.

Between the Rest that I accumulated last week and doing all the side quests, Kaurinka was 58% through level 59 when she finished the main zone storyline. She’ll now slumber in Ardenweald until Kaelinda has activated Threads of Fate, then use Threads of Fate to select the Night Fae as her Covenant and level the remainder of the way to 60.

Lorewise, Ardenweald delivered on the themes of heartbreaking loss and sacrifice promised by its Afterlives short. (more…)

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I watched the Afterlives: Ardenweald short and my heart just broke.

The hard choices, the sacrifice, the existential horror of the idea that souls can cease to exist…. Death-after-death, permadeath, oblivion — we’ve seen these concepts before in WoW, and it’s always horrifying, but somehow the combination with the formerly serene environment of Ardenweald made it even more staggering, more awful to contemplate.

With what little I already know of what Revendreth and the Venthyr are about, I anticipate that their short next week will continue the theme of devastating loss that has run through the other three.

Although I have been extremely fortunate to have not been severely affected by the various real world catastrophes of 2020, I can’t help but feel that this theme of loss is uncannily timely, and wonder to what extent it will make WoW no longer a pleasant pasttime for players who have suffered.

As for my characters, Kerisa — or, rather, Kaurinka, the Alter-Ego who will make her debut as soon as the new customization options go live in 9.0.1 — will still definitely choose the Night Fae, and do her best to help restore that primal forest and save as many of its current crop of hibernating souls as possible. Kamalia, whenever she goes to the Shadowlands, will feel the same. Of my cloth-wearers, I assigned Kaelyla to the Night Fae based on aesthetics; I haven’t learned much about her personality yet, but perhaps eventually she will tell me why choosing the Night Fae would “just feel right” to her internally as well as externally.

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