Final Fantasy Prime #001: The Field of Flowers ~ dawn

So once upon a time, on a now-defunct blog (yeah there’s one even more abandoned than this one), I started writing up this concept that was in large part the basis for a speculative design of remixing the original Final Fantasy with characters and mechanics from later games along with some of my own unique additions. It’s sadly never gotten past the conceptual stage, but I always loved this fragment that I wrote to start it off.

So here it is for your enjoyment. ^_^

 


Ashe_ATB

When she came to, the scent of life was the first thing she noticed. Then a warm light, like dawn after a long night, greeted her as she opened her eyes. She was laying in the grass, under the shade of a great tree, and before her lay a gorgeous field of wildflowers, swaying in the wind, backed by a strand of beach, and the distant crash of the sea.

After_Porom_Sprite bigger

A figure came into her view, and knelt on the grass. She rose up a bit, feeling dizzy, and a gentle hand rested on her shoulder. “It’s all right,” spoke a young voice, confidently, “the dizziness goes away fairly quickly.” The voice belonged to a girl, pink-haired, wearing a white cloak trimmed in a red pattern.

Locke_ATB

Another voice rang out behind her, and she turned to regard a man wearing a blue bandanna, seated against the tree. “It goes away quickly if someone doesn’t knock you in the head with her rod.”

“You shut up, Locke,” said the pink-haired girl severely, and then looked back at her. “It’s all right,” she said again. “I’m Porom. Do you remember anything?”

She thought for a moment, and the dizziness got stronger suddenly. Only one thing came to her, though she was certain there was more: “my name,” she said, “is Ashe. Ashelia B’nargin Dalmasca, and I’m… where am I?”

Porom slumped slightly, though she immediately shook off her disappointment and smiled reassuringly. “None of us know. Every time one of us wakes up, I keep hoping we’ll learn something new, but…” Porom shrugged. “At least we seem to be safe here.”

Tifa_ATB

“For now, at least.” Another female voice, coming from a dark-haired girl in black, with red-gold eyes, who leaned over to offer her a hand up. “Tifa’s the name. Since you’re the last one, it’s probably safe for us to get going.”

Ashe took the hand and rose up, her legs only unsteady for a moment. “Where are we going?”

Tifa shrugged, a light smile spreading across her features. “No idea, but there’s no food here, the sun’s high in the sky, we’ve got ocean on three sides of of us and the old man says there’s a city to the north of us.”

Auron_ATB

Old man? Ashe looked back at the tree, and leaning against the side of it, was a man in a red haori, wearing sunglasses, his arms crossed over his chest.

“How do you know there’s a city if none of us know where we are?”

Silently the man reached into the sleeve of his haori and pulled out a golden tube, which he tossed her way effortlessly. She caught it handily, and realized it was a spyglass. She strode to the tree, shook the spyglass open and pointed it in what she assumed was north. Through the haze of the daytime heat she could see white walls, and a great tower rising behind them.

“That’s not too far away…” Ashe said. She lowered the spyglass and collapsed it before holding it out for the old man to take, but he had resumed his leisurely stance and didn’t move. Ashe looked at him more closely; there was a long scar over his right eye, and only his left eye, a deep brown color, looked at her over his sunglasses.

“I’ll keep this then,” Ashe said, “sir…” and she trailed off, hoping he’d get the hint.

“Auron,” he said in return, his lips barely visible over the tall collar of his haori, “though everyone else seems to think ‘old man’ will suffice.”

Locke kipped up from where he was sitting and dusted himself off. “Well, now that we’re six and we’re all introduced, I guess it’s a party.”

Ashe looked around. “Six?”

Black_Mage_ATB

Auron reached back with one hand and pulled a short figure into view from where he’d been hiding behind the tree. Ashe couldn’t see past the big brown hat and the high collar on it’s coat, but big glowing yellow eyes peeked from the darkness and a tiny voice stammered at her. “I-I’m Vivi, Miss Ashe.”

“All right,” Locke said, “now it’s a party.”

“Why were you hiding?” Ashe asked of the short…she was going to assume boy just for ease.

“Auron scared him,” Porom said, pulling Vivi gently away from the old man and putting herself between them, protectively.

“E-everything scares me, Miss Porom,” Vivi whispered.

“Oh,” said Locke with a chuckle, “we are going to have some fun…”

Ashe shook her head. This was a pack of misfits, made worse by the cloud they all seemed to have on their memories. She hated being so confused, and she hated the dizziness that struck her every time she tried to remember something else. Finally she shook her frustration away. “There’s no time for games. If we want to make that city before nightfall, we should leave now.”

“Taking charge, then?” Auron’s voice said, and Ashe heard the hint of a challenge in it.

“Someone has to,” Ashe said, “do you have a problem with that, Sir Auron?”

The old man gave one shake of his head, and a smile curled his lips slightly. “None at all. Lead on, princess.”

At that last word, she felt something in the mists of her mind clear slightly. Was she a princess? Yes! She was! Followed by how does he know? But she shook that away; there would be time for that later.

Porom was whispering calming words to Vivi as they headed north; Auron shouldered a large sword over his shoulder and settled his other arm inside his haori before following at a leisurely pace, and Ashe caught Locke looking back at Tifa, who was facing the field of wildflowers.

“Coming, Tifa?” said Locke, and Ashe caught a hint of something in his voice that wasn’t just concern.

Tifa turned to face them both, meeting first Locke’s gaze and then Ashe’s, nodding cheerfully. “Sure. I just wanted another look at the field. Who knows if we’re going to forget that too, right?” She stretched her arms up over her head casually, and then jogged off after Auron and the others.

Locke looked after her and then to Ashe, then gave a nod and headed off.

Ashe regarded the field, the warm light, and the ocean beyond, framed with an endless sky. She set one hand on the tree, feeling the bark, searching for familiarity but finding nothing. The hand became a fist, and before she did something foolish she turned and walked after the others.

She would find answers. She deserved them. She was Ashelia Dalmasca. No one leaves her in the dark.

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SKETCH #106: WHEELER

This is a repost from my (now-defunct) writing blog, that I had occasion to come across recently. Decided I wanted to share it again, just for giggles. ^_^


I was about to leave the tavern when she walked in. Quite literally, my hand was on my sword-belt, pulling it down from the peg on the booth, and then one of the Fae strolled through the doors like a shaft of light into a darkened room.

She didn’t hide it, didn’t try. You could see pointed ears poking through red-gold hair, a hunter-green cloak with the hood thrown back, and a lute-in-leather over her shoulder. I saw the bartender perk up at her entrance, a smile spreading across his features as he reached under the bar for something. I watched as she walked through the place like she owned it, petite against the backdrop of the mahogany bar, and saw her mount a stool only to heave herself onto the bar, dangling her boots before her as she faced the common.

I’d already left silver on the table for my meal (looking back, the garçon had already collected it while I wasn’t looking, little bugger) but headed to the bar anyway. My appointment wasn’t exactly pressing, after all. I placed myself down the bar from where the Fae sat, and motioned to the barman. He gave a smirk, like he heard the punchline to a joke, and poured another pint of the Tenhain I’d just finished.

I was taking the first taste of the beer when I heard metals snaps coming undone. Looking to the Fae, she had opened the leather to pull out a lute-like instrument made of black wood. From a sleeve she pulled out a piece of horn that looked like a flattened ‘T’, and twirled it expertly in her fingers.

She gave me a wry smile (because she’d noticed I was staring, and perhaps it was the drink but I found myself not caring) and dragged a corner of her ‘T’ across the three strings. And then she played.

It was an enthralling piece, but by the end I realized something: I was the only person in the tavern, aside from the staff and the Fae.

I raised my mug to her nonetheless, and she nodded her appreciation.

“I’m afraid I’m not much of an audience for you, lady,” I said.

She idly plucked more on the instrument softly as she smiled again. “Audience enough, shaheen.”

“That’s no lute I’ve ever seen before.”

She laughed. “No, I imagine it is not.”

Where was she from? “Far away.” How’d she come to the city? “Boat.” Business or pleasure? “Business is pleasure, shaheen. Both, then?” And all the while she accompanied our conversation with an endless meandering melody on that lute, the long fingers of one hand manipulating the strings while the other picked at them with the bachi.

I realize, looking back, that it was an incredibly frustrating conversation. Or was for a time, until…

“So where are you off to, shaheen?”

“I am a swordsman. I go where I please, when I have a purpose.”

“What purpose would call a swordsman out at this time of night?”

“Business requiring only the sword, if I’m brief.” I can play this game too, Fae. Or so I thought at the time.

“Does it pay well, this business? Playing escort to a sword?”

I was surprised at the sweetness of it, but a fair hand can hurt just as much as a rough one when it slaps you in the face.”The sword doesn’t wield itself, lady.”

“But does the sword not employ you? Without the sword, what are you? Have you another skill?” She paused, but before I could say anything she went on. “What’s more, if the sword doesn’t wield itself, as you say, what is the sword without the hand that wields it?”

Still her hands plied the strings of her instrument, and the gentle smile never left her face, nor the lilt of her voice turned scornful. This was a child asking questions of philosophy, though I couldn’t help but sense there was some motive behind it all.

“Couldn’t I say the same of you, then?” I said, and it’s possible I was not as good at concealing my scorn, though for my part I tried. “Are you not a slave to your lute, if your lute is what makes the music?”

She laughed again, and my scorn burned like bile in my throat. “My lute would be in a poor business, to come to a tavern with no paying customers within. My lute makes music because I wish it to, not because it is what employs me. I have other skills for my employment.”

“Such as?” A thousand ribald examples leaped to mind, and a dark corner of my mind considered whether or not my wages for the night could be better used.

She built to a climax with her bachi, and let the last notes hand in the air. “To start, I am most pleased to own a tavern.”

Such was my introduction to Wheeler, and that is as good a place as any to begin her story.

Friday Flash (head)Canon Archive, July 13th

SHALL WE PLAY A GAME

A follow-up:

MOVING ON:

A follow-up:

BACK IN THE SADDLE:

The following are the remaining requests I haven’t filled yet. I will update this post with the responses once I have some more time to draft them up. ^_^

 

from the 20th

….

 

Allied Races: WotLK Edition

Alliance: Frostborn Dwarves

Available Classes: Warrior, Hunter, Mage, Rogue, Priest, Paladin

Racial Abilities:

  • Breath of the North Wind: Breathe a cone of ice that deals X Frost damage to enemies with 8 yards. Enemies damaged are slowed by 25% for 2s, and any movement enhancing effects are canceled. (2m CD)
  • Resist the Elements: Reduce Fire/Frost damage taken by 1%.
  • Cold Fury: Maximum resource increased by 5%.
  • Stormcrest Salvation: Instantly summon a Stormcrest Eagle to slow your falling speed for 2m. (10m)

Racial Mount:

  • Ground: Frostmaw Warbear
  • Flying: Stormcrest Warbird

Horde: The Taunka

Available Classes: Warrior, Hunter, Shaman, Priest, Monk

Racial Abilities:

  • The Natural Order: Experience gained from killing Aberrations and Undead increased by 20%.
  • Spearfishing: Fishing skill increased by 15, and successful casts have a chance to provide additional fish.
  • Whalebone Whistle: Summon your fishing buddy Kub’iak, who will sell fishing equipment to you and buy your junk for 3m. (30m)
  • Tundra Running: After a brief pause, take on a distance running stance that scales with your Riding skill.

Racial Mount:

  • Ground: Tundra Blackpelt (Rhino)
  • Aquatic: Pygmy Frostsnapper (Ice Turtle)

Remixing the Black Empire

BEAR WITH ME I’M THINKING HERE

Okay, so, let’s unpack this a bit. The core element here is that we’ve got three primary strains of the Aqir between the mantid, nerubians, and the qiraji. The silithid are a drone-worker race that don’t have sentience but have been bred and trained by the qiraji to suit a variety of specialized roles. Along the same lines, the nerubians have non-sentients in their ranks (spiderlings, enslaved arachnathid, and fliers) and the mantid have really only got HUGE FUCKING NUMBERS OF MANTID and the kunchong.

What’s weird about the qiraji is how much more humanoid they mostly are:

  • Vek’lor and Vek’nilash (model name: qiraji emperor) use a night elf male skeleton and aside from having carapace-looking bony bits everywhere (which is played up far better in their Hearthstone card art) it’s hard to tell exactly what insectoid qualities they’ve got.
  • Qiraji gladiators are more overt with the big pincer hands and insectoid faces, but the otherwise bipedal appearance is weird.
  • Qiraji battleguards looking a whole lot like human women with wasp wings and some other random bug bits tacked on like bad cosplay is probably the biggest oddity of the lot.
  • And meanwhile at the other end of the spectrum you’ve got the qiraji prophet (Prophet Skeram, Harbinger Skyriss) which is much more in-line with the nerubian viziers as a cognate.

With the nerubians, you’ve got the baseline nerubians and the viziers with the humanoid upper body (which is nonetheless still more monstrous than human) while the spiderlords are basically a beetle-spider hybrid. And the mantid are much more homogeneous, with only the Empress having an appearance that deviates from the normal humanoid-ish shape of the swarmborn mantid (and, by the way, the mantid queen model is just a modification of the nerubian vizier model).

So…

HOKAY HERE GOES

Consider the idea that the different groups of the Aqir are really a product of experimentation and evolution by the Old Gods that resulted in several specialized strains, utilized throughout the history and eventual destruction of the Black Empire.

The nerubians are the oldest of the races. That’s a declaration I’m making as a basis for this headcanon, the purpose of which should be clear by the end of it. In terms of their intended designs:

  • Nerubians (and the spellcasting we see expressed as viziers) were well-suited to subterranean area control, between web production (for all of its varied uses) and improved locomotion in caves. Given the Old Gods’ malignant advancement into Azeroth’s deep places, the nerubians would have been useful for exploration and identifying exotic materials for extraction.
  • Nerubian spiderlords are an armored variety, bred for burrowing and intended to take a lot of punishment, including perhaps a degree of heat resistance. These qualities would have served well when the Old Gods worked to subjugate the elemental lords of fire and earth.
  • Spiderlings and fliers are effectively bestial offshoots from the core design, likely unintended but probably useful to the nerubians as companions and/or fodder.

The qiraji represent several of the strains developed by the Old Gods in response to the assault of the Titans and their titanforged armies.

  • Qiraji prophets are a refinement on the nerubian viziers, with greater spellcasting ability combined with a bulkier carapace. While the prophets sacrificed the mobility of the nerubians in general, their ability to manipulate magic and minds was key for maintaining control of the drudge silithid hives and coordinating qiraji forces as officers.
  • Qiraji battleguards could be considered a prototype for the mantid, as a highly mobile aerial scout. More on this shortly. (On reflection, the notion that they could have been useful against Al’Akir can’t be ignored.)
  • Qiraji gladiators were, to a certain extent, a mass production replica of the c’thraxxi, designed to face off against the titanforged on the battlefield. Pincer arms would have been useful for dismembering or disarming the enemy constructs. A bipedal shape is more compact, less vulnerable, and has arguably better leverage against a similarly bipedal opponent.
  • The qiraji emperors would have represented the pinnacle of the Old Gods’ design for modifying the Aqir to execute their will remotely. As powerful agents of both physical and magical prowess that had all of the strength and leverage to go toe-to-toe with the titanforged AND command the Aqiri swarms, they would make excellent lieutenants for the c’thraxxi generals on the field while also having the independence to lead if the c’thraxxi were taken down.

The mantid represent a strain that didn’t see deployment before the Old Gods were defeated and sealed away, but came about gradually, and largely outside the view of everything that remained of the Black Empire.

THIS GON TAKE SOME EXPLANATION

The original mantid queen was an experimental prototype. Take a qiraji prophet (maybe modified to have the more compact and less-armored design of the nerubian vizier), but add in the reproductive faculties of a silithid queen. Great magical power, and the ability to produce massive amounts of troops which she could then direct psychically, but requiring time and space to do so.

Now consider the possibility that this original queen prototype escaped the notice of the titanforged. Also consider that this prototype was positioned in the southern central reaches of Ancient Kalimdor. When Y’shaarj was torn free of the world by Aman’thul, the lifeblood of the nascent Titan spurted forth, collecting in certain places on the continent. These places became testbeds for the Titan Eonar to experiment with the life that sprang forth in response to contact with this magical blood. The area that would come to be known as the Vale of Eternal Blossoms was one of these testbeds…

HURRY UP CROW IT’S LUNCH TIME

To cut to the chase, the kypari trees that dot the Townlong Steppes and the Dread Wastes may have been a product of the blood of Azeroth impacting life on the surface. The mantid consider kypari amber to be the “lifeblood of the earth” and a critical component of how they have shaped their culture and survived over the millennia. Hence, what we have is a largely off-the-wall experiment of the Old Gods in this mantid queen, but she then begins to experiment with the kypari amber herself and is able to draw on its power.

This original mantid empress then begins the great cycle of the mantid swarm: the overwhelming majority of the offspring she produces over the course of a century are male mantid swarmborn. When the swarm reaches an appropriate critical mass, the empress sings to drive the swarmborn into a battle frenzy. Whatever mantid that survive this assault return to strengthen the swarm as a whole, and the cycle begins again. When the empress approaches the end of her life, she produces a single female offspring that, when hatched, will become the new empress and perpetuate the swarm’s objective anew.

The mantid, then, are an unintended product of the Old Gods’ experimentation with the Aqir, which in turn required the defeat of the Old Gods in order to flourish into the self-perpetuating, self-improving engine of devastation that the mantid became. The fact that the closest target of the mantid were the mogu, themselves derelict Titanforged constructs who had lost their intended purposes in the torpor of Keeper Ra, means that their history is really a constantly repeating re-enactment of the long-ceased war between the Old Gods and the Titans.

This helps to explain why the mantid were markedly less acknowledged in history while the qiraji and the nerubians were the more recognized actors within Azj’Aqir. The mantid were essentially a localized threat that chose their nearest target, the mogu, to harass, instead of assaulting other more distant enemies like the Zandalari trolls or the nascent kaldorei empire further north. When Pandaria was split off from the rest of the world as a result of the Sundering, the mantid were basically unaffected.

HEADCANON COMPLETE OKAY GO

Remixing The Wibbly-Wobbly Time Mechanisms of WoD

So… what was the initial conceit of Warlords of Draenor as an expansion?

THE ORIGINAL

Kairozdormu, having learned some new ways to manipulate time due to his research on the Timeless Isle, colludes with Wrathion, who is intent on creating a threat on Azeroth that will prepare the mortal races for the impending invasion of the Burning Legion. They plot to free the captive Garrosh Hellscream (under trial for his war crimes) and place him on Draenor in the past, where he’ll use his connections to the Old Horde to build a force that can truly challenge Azeroth in the present. Garrosh, refusing to be controlled, kills Kairozdormu but proceeds with forming the Iron Horde and invading Azeroth through a time-altered Dark Portal. In response, the Alliance and Horde send expeditions back through the Dark Portal to disable it, then begin a campaign to dismantle the Iron Horde on their home turf of the old Draenor.

WHAT WORKED

So… part of what made this whole conceit screwy was the part where despite traveling to Draenor’s past, nothing we did in the past would change the present. This was explained as traveling to an alternate version of Draenor’s past, with notable differences (Rulkan is alive, Garrosh was never born, etc.) being explained as “blades of grass” that were just a result of Kairozdormu finding exactly the right circumstances for the scenario he had planned.

WHAT WAS FUCKY

The explanation held water for the most part, but it got worse when the Legion got involved. Because now we have this scenario where despite us going back to past-Draenor, the present day Legion is communicating with Gul’dan there, giving him tips on how to combat us. Because the Legion now exists outside time.

Which creates a lot of weird headaches about the nature of reality in the setting. For example: part of what we do in the expansion is go back and interact with the past version of Prophet Velen, even knowing that the present-day Velen is sitting in the Exodar on present-Azeroth. So at a single point in time, there are potentially an infinite number of Velens to interact with given all of these alternate versions that exist (and we know they exist, because Kairozdormu scrolled through all of them to find the best one for his plot). Yet the Legion is explained as existing entirely outside the context of that, in the Twisting Nether. There is only ONE Kil’jaeden, ONE Archimonde, and they’re running the Legion. What does that do in alternate timelines where Kil’jaeden and/or Archimonde didn’t bow to Sargeras? Or the ones where Velen DID?

A REMIX IS REQUIRED

The conceit of the expansion requires us to go to Old Draenor, but the relevance to the modern Azeroth means that a present threat needs to exist. That’s why the Burning Legion is that threat (and it’s why Legion as an expansion was predicated off the events of Warlords) but making the Legion exist outside time in order to facilitate that is pretty screwy.

So… how can we remix the conceit to make more sense?


LET’S DROP THE BEAT

Using what he’s learned from his research on the Timeless Isle, Kairozdormu stages a coup in the Caverns of Time, attempting to kill Nozdormu and other leaders of the Bronze Dragonflight in the process. Rifts in time open, with orcs and Infinite dragons appearing to back Kairoz. Chromie and Khadgar join forces with a group of heroes to beat back Kairoz’ forces, then pursue him through one of the rifts.

On the other side of the rift, the heroes discover what Kairoz has done: he’s gone back to the past of Draenor with Garrosh, who has created the Iron Horde, while Kairoz himself has corrupted numerous bronze dragons into Infinites, who together are using their power to secure Kairoz’ hold on this point in time. While Khadgar and the heroes stay to combat the orcs and Kairoz, Chromie returns to the present to aid Nozdormu is securing the present timeline to prevent Kairoz’ interference from destroying reality.

Khadgar and the heroes succeed in destroying the Chronal Portal connecting Old Draenor to the present. Weakened, Kairoz withdraws, leaving Garrosh and his Iron Horde with the task of crushing the invaders from Azeroth so they can renew their assault on the Caverns of Time in the present. Khadgar’s quick thinking (and knowledge of Draenor from his past experience there) allows him to escape with the heroes, along with some newfound allies, to begin a campaign to retake Draenor from the Iron Horde and stop Kairozdormu.

Chromie rejoins the heroes, stating that all of the dragonflights in the present have joined their remaining power together with Nozdormu in order to protect the timeway from being corrupted, but they cannot hold out forever. Time is of the essence.

HERE’S WHY IT WOULD WORK

The core difference is this: we are in Draenor’s past, but the reason why the present isn’t being impacted is because Nozdormu and all of the dragonflights are ACTIVELY WORKING to make sure it doesn’t. The sense of urgency and impact on the present is because if we fail, the present Azeroth is wiped from reality when the timeway adjusts.

The rest of Warlords proceeds mostly as written, with a few tweaks:

  • Zaela’s takeover in UBRS is a last gasp of Garrosh’ MoP-era True Horde instead of part of his Iron Horde gambit. Wrathion is tangentially involved, since he’s trying to gather Nefarian’s research.
  • The end of the Everbloom dungeon doesn’t culminate in an assault on Stormwind, but instead on the player’s garrison.
  • Gul’dan and his Shadow Council were being used as fuel for the time portal, just as they were in the original scenario. However, we release them, setting up a three-way conflict between the Azeroth invasion, the Shadow Council, and the Iron Horde/Infinites.
  • Khadgar’s cat-and-mouse game with Gul’dan is intercut with Chromie’s objective of locating Kairoz’ lair and breaking the connection with Azeroth.
  • There are no blades of grass; the past we’re experiencing is the actual past, and any changes that take place are a result of Kairoz’ direct tampering.
  • The Legion Gul’dan is communicating with is the Burning Legion of that time, not the present day Legion. This is important later.

This allows the launch content and the 6.2 patch content to proceed as written, but then adds a critical third tier of raiding, where having defeated the Iron Horde and secured Draenor, we move against Kairozdormu’s Infinite Lair to break the connection between Old Draenor and present-day Azeroth, while also undoing everything Kairoz did to interfere with Draenor’s past.

When we defeat Kairoz and the Infinites, we’re told that Old Draenor should return to how it was before Kairoz started messing with it. We’re still able to access our garrison and Old Draenor’s content because game mechanics, but the big cinematic after killing Kairoz basically indicates that we go home. This prevents people from asking questions like “why isn’t Yrel/Grommash helping us fight the Legion?” or “why don’t we go to AU-Azeroth?”

WHY THIS WOULD BE DOPE GOING INTO LEGION

However, that doesn’t mean that nothing from the expansion’s events comes forward.

A key part of Khadgar’s feud with Gul’dan is the part where Gul’dan is increasingly converting himself further and further into a demon in order to continue evading capture and maintain his fight against both Khadgar and Kairoz. Khadgar recognizes that if Gul’dan becomes a demon fully, he will be markedly more difficult to kill, and will be a distraction when the Azeroth invasion has to contend with the Infinites. So Khadgar refines his soul-trap into a soulstone that can be used to capture Gul’dan’s demonic essence, but it requires Gul’dan to be on the CUSP of becoming a demon.

Instead of Gul’dan being sucked into a portal during the Archimonde fight in Hellfire Citadel, Archimonde empowers Gul’dan, converting him to that cusp point. Khadgar springs into action, sealing Gul’dan within the soulstone and depriving Archimonde of his backup, allowing the heroes to defeat him.

As part of the events surrounding the raid on Kairoz and the Infinites, Cordana (having been turned to the Legion’s service by Gul’dan) steals the soulstone from Khadgar and flees back through the time portal into the present. Legion’s conceit (of Gul’dan returning to the Broken Shore and using the Tomb of Sargeras to open the rift) can then proceed as written.


WRAP IT UP CROW COFFEE BREAKS AIN’T THAT LONG

This remix would have given us a third tier of content for Warlords, allowed the expansion as a whole to basically act as a Caverns of Time expansion (bookended by the fights with Kairoz), and would have sidestepped the problem of the Legion existing outside the pre-existing concepts of time travel that the franchise had already established. The notion of the Legion infinitely replenishing itself in the Twisting Nether can be preserved without the “outside time” component, since that’s a key element of what we’re doing against the Legion on Argus.

Moreover, making a more forceful point of showing Kairozdormu creating the Infinite Dragonflight puts that on display better than it was done in the short story. And combining that knowledge with an entire expansion where Nozdormu is channeling the remaining power of the dragonflights in order to keep present-day Azeroth preserved seeds the possibility of him eventually corrupting HIMSELF into Murozond. Because while we know that Nozdormu has foreseen his death, and that his death comes at the hands of Azeroth’s heroes after he has driven the Infinites in messing with time in key points, we’ve only seen one iteration of how that death takes place. Again, it’s seeding a future Murozond rematch.

So, that’s the concept. The conceit of Warlords upended a lot of stuff about the mechanics of the world of Warcraft in ways that weaken it structurally. Encapsulating it WITHIN those mechanics would have served to give the devs what they wanted (“let’s bring back all of these badasses from the RTS games for a rematch” + “let’s reimagine Draenor”) while also presenting the opportunity for a present-day threat for Azeroth and laying groundwork for future content (i.e. Nozdormu’s eventual corruption, Wrathion digging into Nefarian’s stuff, past-Gul’dan existing to enact Legion, etc.).

Tell me what you think.

REMIX THE GUN NARRATIVE IN THE US

As a response to last night’s horrific events in Las Vegas, I suspect that the narrative for this week will be dominated by the debate over gun control in the US. We’ve had this argument far too many times in recent years, but I have started to notice that when I get resistance to the idea of stricter gun controls, some typical responses get trotted out by people who don’t want stricter gun laws.

In the few hours I’ve been working on this, I’ve found counters for all of those responses that offer either a solid anecdotal account or extensive research and reporting. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, and I could easily spend a LOT more time compiling counters, but I need to salve my mental health and do something else.

So let’s get started:

“If you make guns illegal, only criminals will have them.”

The United Kingdom has stricter gun control laws than the US. People often point to the UK as an example and counter-example of the pros/cons of gun control in the US. So there’s this:

There’s more discussion to be had about black market availability of guns and how that factors into gun violence, of course, but the notion that “I have a perfectly valid civilian use for my gun” isn’t a reason for gun laws to be as lax as they currently are.

“If you take away my gun, I am defenseless.”

Crime is down, but gun ownership is up in the US because of the argument of self-defense. The two-fold cause is that a) the NRA wants to sell a product and b) our media industry has perpetuated a Pavlovian response when it comes to reporting violence, because they live off ratings and ratings go up when violent crime occurs somewhere, so they report it more.

“Guns are our protection against the potential tyranny of the government or military.”

This gets brought up a lot, and all of the arguments about the role of the Second Amendment and how it can/should be interpreted have been going around in circles for a long time. So it’s important to remember what the Founding Fathers considered a gun at the time they wrote it:

“We should be addressing mental health, not trying to take guns from law-abiding citizens.”

Funny you should mention that. (But it was a shitty rule.)

“We should arm more people, not fewer.”

How about them good guys with guns?

“‘Assault-style weapons’ is a misnomer used to flag perfectly reasonable weapons as more dangerous than they are.”

Let’s get our definitions straight. So yeah, I’ll buy that folks might be confused about what weapon does what and politicians latch onto talking points. That doesn’t change the fact that high-volume mags and semi-automatic fire is still pretty problematic from the “self-defense” position if you’re just walking into Wal-mart for milk and ammo.

“We need to do more research about gun violence before we fly off the handle making up new laws.” 

Oh but wait, the CDC can’t do that with federal funding, wow… So aside from the part where the NRA lobbies lawmakers to dissuade them from enacting gun control, they also lobby to prevent lawmakers from even asking a third party to run the math. It’s what they call a racket.

“We should be enforcing the existing laws on the books instead of making up new laws.”

Spoiler warning: the alleged gunman in Vegas appears to have adhered to local laws, had no notable prior criminal history, and while he was known to local law enforcement he wasn’t on any kind of watch list. It’s not clear yet if he had any history of mental illness.

And here’s a nice wall of data to look at, which assaults all of the above points in the context of the rest of the world.

 

 

 

 

WINDRUNNER REUNION

Sylvanas: Sister. You look well.

Alleria: I can’t say the same about you. Sylvanas, what happened to you? How could you lead the Horde?

Sylvanas: What has Little Moon been telling you?

Alleria: Enough to know that you’ve turned your back on your people.

Sylvanas: Would you believe me if I told you that the Horde we fought was nothing compared to what came afterward? That everything that I’ve done has been in the name of protecting my people?

Alleria: Explain yourself.

Sylvanas: I am not a child for you to makes demands of.

Alleria: Leading an army of savages and corpses does not give you authority, Sylvanas! I left Quel’Thalas in your hands!

Sylvanas: Did you expect me to do more than die for Quel’Thalas, sister? That is what I did! And that was just the beginning of my suffering, of my curse. You know nothing of what I’ve had to endure!

Sylvanas: You say you’ve been fighting the Legion for a thousand years. I have been fighting their weapons since before you left; the Horde, the Scourge, Prince Kael’thas… and when your Grand Alliance could have aided us, it was THEY who turned their backs on OUR PEOPLE.

Sylvanas: A thousand years have done nothing to change you, sister. Never an eye for anything other than your prey, never a glance backward at what is left in your wake. Your disregard would break my heart if it could still beat.

Sylvanas: So save your demands. If it takes becoming your target for you to pay attention, then so be it.

Sylvanas: *stalks out*

Alleria: … so some part of my sister is still there, within that monster.

*meanwhile, outside*

Nathanos Marris: *glowers at Turalyon*

Turalyon: *glowers at Nathanos*

Nathanos Marris: *glowers at Turalyon*

Turalyon: *glowers at Nathanos*

Sylvanas: *emerges from room* We’re leaving.

Nathanos Marris: *to Turalyon* Good talk.

Turalyon: *to Nathanos* Indeed.

CITY/ESTATE SCRATCHPAD FOR APRILYNNE PIKE

Rosct (RAH-sht): Northern port town, servicing the seasonal Rashin nomads. Members of the five great Rashin tribes don’t make permanent settlements, but instead cycle between the seaport of Rosct and the mountaintop spiritual capital of Pahua Jihn. Each solstice and equinox is when the tribes cycle positions between five general areas:

  1. Rosct
  2. The cold coastlands north of Rosct
  3. The northern passes leading inland towards Pahua Jihn
  4. Pahua Jihn
  5. The warm southern passes leading to Rosct

Permanent residents of Rosct mainly consist of foreigners who have come to trade with the Rashin for the bounty of their travels, as well as as budding industry serving the needs of foreign converts to the Jihn faith making a pilgrimage to Pahua Jihn. The community in Rosct is known for being quite welcoming to travelers of all kinds but quite hostile to those who prey on pilgrims in particular.

Ercann (air-KAHN): River valley crossroad city, surrounded by farmland. Initially established as a trading post between the riverfolk and travelers along the old Imperial road, a budding community developed after someone learned that potatoes would grow to ludicrous size in the river valley soil. As riverboats (and later airships) made exporting the potatoes a more profitable endeavor, Ercann grew into a powerful city-state. Foreign gentry often paid a pretty penny to purchase country estates that were, in turn, quite profitable in terms of produce returns, so long as they were well-managed.

The more prominent estates around Ercann are called “caens.” It’s drawn from a riverfolk tradition about dowsing sites, but with a weird quirk: as Ercann boomed and these estates came into being, some builders established a trend of prefixing the name with “Caen ___” as a token of respect to the riverfolk traditions. The quirk is that any estates that didn’t have “Caen” in the name experienced all manner of ill-luck, from blights on the farmland to livestock deaths, and often fell into disrepair. In nearly every case, once a place was re-named a caen the land tended to recover over time. Notable caens include:

  1. Caen Tosca
  2. Caen ul’Erca
  3. Caen Boxer
  4. Caen Immakhaliduateva (so re-named by a foreign merchant who wanted to test the legend and somehow succeeded)

 

YREL, GUIDING LIGHT OF DRAENOR [DRAFT]

This is incomplete. Taking a break because hearing about a suicide always impacts my mood.

Role: Melee Support/Assassin?

Trait: Shards of Light
Yrel’s Basic Attacks deplete Shards of Light from her hammer. Various abilities and talents will grant her additional Shards of Light to empower her melee attacks.

Hammer of the Naaru (Q):
Yrel empowers her crystalline hammer with a Shard of Light. While at least one Shard of Light is active, Yrel’s Basic Attacks deal an additional 50% damage.

Judgment of Hope (W):
Yrel marks a target with the Judgment of Hope. When Yrel or her allies deal damage to the marked target, they gain life based on the damage dealt. Yrel can only mark a single target with Judgment of Hope at a time.

Avenging Wrath (E):
Yrel sprouts wings of light, charging forward and following up with a smashing attack. The first enemy struck during the charge will be carried along and take additional damage from the follow-up attack. Other enemies struck while Yrel is charging are knocked away. She is Unstoppable during the charge.

Heroic (R1): Call Vigilant
After a brief delay, Yrel summons Vigilant Maraad to aid her in combat. The Vigilant inflicts Judgment of Hope on enemy heroes within his initial impact area, then follows Yrel for 20 seconds, targeting her targets with AoE damage. Judgment of Hope expires when the Vigilant expires or is destroyed.

Heroic (R2): Divine Bulwark
Yrel calls down a wide dome of light centered on herself, which reflects 50% of the damage dealt by enemies within the shield or targeting allies within the shield. Allies within the shield are healed for a moderate amount and take 100% reduced damage from Basic Attacks while within the shield.