Much like the idea that player farms could have been a constant feature of the game, I’ve had some fun imagining where scenarios would have fit into the original design and the design of successive expansions. What occurs to me about scenarios is that they’re an excellent way to deliver story in a one-time circumstance, but if players want the option of completing it multiple times for rewards, that’s cool too.
Scenarios also do a good job of standing in for the old group quest concept, because it requires a group but doesn’t really require roles. So having scenarios act as the endcaps of zone-wide questing storylines is a method to bring an air of importance to that climactic narrative. In the case of zones where the storyline goes into a 5-man dungeon (WPL questing feeding into Scholomance, or Burning Steppes/Searing Gorge leading into BRD, for example) the scenario could actually act as a preview of the dungeon, or gives space for an in-dungeon quest to be given its own scenario rather than being a distraction on successive runs.
Some examples might include:
- Breaking Marshall Windsor out of the Dark Iron prison in Blackrock Depths.
- Assisting Rexxar against Emberstrife in Dustwallow Marsh.
- Chromie’s tweaks to the Battle of Darrowshire.
Another usage for scenarios aligns with the original Theramore’s Fall scenario, which allowed players to participate in the events that were simultaneously being covered in Christie Golden’s Mists lead-in novel, Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War. While there’s a lot of value to be had in encouraging players to experience a story outside the context of the game, the many books and comics that have come out would have benefited from an advertising push of some kind within the game. That in mind, using scenarios as a way to showcase the broad strokes of a published story would encourage players to step outside of the game to pick up the physical book.
Some examples of this could be:
- Chromie revisiting the fall of Alexandros Mograine (from the Ashbringer limited series).
- Tyrygosa getting assistance in rescuing Anveena Teague and Kalecgos from dragon hunters (from the Sunwell Trilogy manga series).
- Vol’jin and Tyrathan’s efforts in the defense of Zouchin Province (from Vol’jin: Shadows of the Horde).
When it comes down to it, the fact that scenarios take existing assets and allow them to be reused means that you can always go back to certain setpieces within a dungeon and use them for a scenario. For example, Blackrock Depths has a TON of setpieces, but when players are just leveling through the dungeon, those sets tend to be passed over in the group effort to kill the endboss and move on to the next run.
- A heist on the Black Vault in Shadowforge City. (The treasures you’re stealing could be varied.)
- The trial in the Ring of Law. (As in the in-game event, the bosses you’re fighting could be varied.)
- A brawl in the Grim Guzzler. (There’s always someone looking for a fight, no?)
Of course, this all gets into some mechanical questions about how to handle scenarios as expansions progress. Do you use iLvl-throttling in zone-narrative climax scenarios to keep them challenging? What’s the reward matrix for scenarios at max-level? Are ALL scenarios repeatable?
But without digging into that, I feel like there’s just a huge wellspring of story events throughout the game’s history that could be highlighted more effectively using the scenario treatment. I might script some out for giggles later this month if anyone’s interested. ^_^