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

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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.

PROJECT FOUR: INSPIRATION WARRIOR [draft]

WARNING: POST IS STILL IN DEVELOPMENT carry on

Crow says: So I’ve got an idea for a warrior healing spec.
Entirely Theoretical Team 2 Class Design Lead says: Oh no.
Crow says: Look, the D&D Warlord class was all about shouting healing into allies and directing them around the battlefield. That can totally work with a lot of Warrior’s existing tools to make a mobile frontline healer that weaves healing and absorbs into their own melee strikes and occasionally ping-ponging around the battlefield. And shouting at allies to get back up after they’re killed.
Entirely Theoretical Team 2 Class Design Lead says: why are there so many floors in this building WHY

Concept/Fantasy: Inspiration (Healer)

As frontline combatants, warriors have distinguished themselves as bulwarks able to withstand the most devastating blows, weapon masters who strike surgically to deal the greatest amount of damage to their enemies, or reckless berserkers who leap into the fray to maul their enemies into submission. Recently, a new kind of warrior has emerged; they lead their allies from the frontline, bolstering them against damage, directing their strikes as a group to where they’ll have the greatest impact, and even ordering fallen allies back into the fray.

Inspiration warriors are like other healers in that they have spells that cost mana in order to heal their allies, but they also still deploy rage like other warriors; they gain rage from taking and dealing damage, and they turn that into attacks that interact with their healing in different ways.

Similar to Discipline priests, Inspiration warriors are intended to have damage as a part of their rotation in order to optimize their healing. Unlike Discipline priests, though, that’s not a matter of damage conversion, where damage dealt is converted into healing. Healing improves the effectiveness of their attacks, while attacking supports their mana regeneration. They are certainly more aggressive healers, with greater mobility, but have to balance that against being positioned in melee.

Warrior (Inspiration) TL;DR

  • fight alongside the tank and melee allies while healing and attacking
  • use orders and shouts to support allies with health and absorption
  • resource/cooldown management very important

Offensive Abilities

Avenging Strike
Strike a melee enemy for X. Deals additional damage when the enemy is targeting an ally. Costs 30 Rage.

Dowsing Strike
Strike a melee enemy for X, recharging 2% of your max mana and applying Rend Mana to the target. Rend Mana stacks up to 5 times and lasts 5s. Gain increased mana regeneration based the number of Rend Mana stacks on the target.

Charge, Heroic Leap, & Heroic Throw
Inspiration Warriors retain these baseline abilities for moving around the battlefield, with some talents to modify them.

Healing Abilities

Focused Orders
Reduce the mana cost and cooldown of orders cast on the target of Focused Orders. If no other ally has your Focused Orders, the first order cast on an ally applies Focused Orders to that ally. You can toggle Focused Orders in order to apply it to a new target once every 30s.

Resilient Order
After 1.5 seconds, target is healed for x. 1.5s CD.

Bolstering Order
After 2.5 seconds, target is healed for a great amount. 2.5s CD.

Defiant Order
Dispel a Magic or Disease effect from an ally. 1.5s CD.

Marching Order (“walk it off ya pansy”)
Target ally is resurrected for 30s at 50% health. When Marching Order expires, the ally dies again (taking no durability damage) but is Exhausted and cannot be resurrected again until combat ends.

Reveille
Brings a dead ally back to life with 35% life and mana. Cannot be cast in combat.

Valorous Shout
After 2.5s, heal the nearest six allies for X and reduce their damage taken by 10% for 10s. 2.5s CD.

Tactical Supremacy
Reduce the cooldown and mana cost of your mana spenders by 50% for 10s. 2m CD.

Fortification (passive)
When your heals overheal a target, the target instead gains an absorption shield equal to the overheal amount for the next 10s.

New Abilities

 

Talents [INCOMPLETE]

Invigorating Intercept
Charge to an ally and heal them for x. They take 30% less damage from the next attack made against them.

Victorious Cheer (replaces Victory Rush)
(Costs X mana) Heal all allies within 30 yards for 15% maximum health.  Only usable for 20 seconds after you or your Focused Orders target kills an enemy that grants honor or experience.

Splashdown
Heroic Leap heals nearby allies for x, and reduces the mana cost of your next mana-spender by 50%

Tier 5-1: Chant of Resilience
After casting Resilient Order, the next order cast within 6s also casts Resilient Order on the target for free.

Tier 5-2: Chant of Defiance
After casting Defiant Order, casting another order within 6s also casts Defiant Order on the target for 50% less mana.

Tier 5-3: Marching Chant
After casting Marching Order, casting another order within 6s extends the duration of Marching Order by 2s, but cost 50% more mana.

Rallying Cry (replaces Commanding Shout)
3m CD. Grant all party of raid members withing 30 yards an absorption shield equal to 10% max health for 10s and restores 25% of their primary resource.

Reprisal
Healing abilities build up stacks of Reprisal. Reprisal increases the number of Rend Mana stacks applied by Dowsing Strike to 2 and improves the damage of Avenging Strike by 100% per stack.

Concentrated Assault
Order your allies to concentrate their attacks on a single target. Attacks against the target heal a nearby injured target for a percentage of their missing health.

Mastery: Inspiring Strikes
Your mana-spenders has a chance to trigger a melee attack that deals 150% Physical damage to a nearby melee target and generates 5 Rage. Trigger chance increases based on Mastery.


Let me know what works and what doesn’t in the comments. (will be making some additional edits later, just wanted to get it up for feedback)

WESTFALL DEADSHOT [DRAFT]

When: Four Years After the Dark Portal
Where: The golden fields of Westfall


Picking her first target was Tiffin’s least favorite part of waiting. The building adrenaline, the tension, the fear… it all made her mind race down little mental box canyons that were a distraction from the task at hand. She takes a deep breath and blows it out slowly, keeping herself on her shadowed bit of hillside, the crossbow loaded but her finger far from the trigger. Time to focus.

Someone who’s engaged with the group. When the task is to draw attention, it means you need to choose the person that everyone in the group is looking at, or at least has in the periphery. Every group has a talker, someone who’s trying to fill the drudgery of a patrol with entertainment of some kind. When you want to send a message, especially when that message is “look at me, i’m over here, killing you one by one,” then picking the guy who was in the middle of talking about his last night’s escapades is a great way to do it.

Find the talker. This group is more cautious than the last one; five orcs rather than four, and three of them are doing a passable job of actually surveying the fallow, dried-out fields around them. But the talker is right there in the front, and the green lunk next to him seems completely engrossed in whatever story he’s telling.

She goes through other steps in her mind, keeping her movements slow so as not to give up her position too soon. Her eyes scan the yellowed grass to get an idea of the wind. The sunlight is not a factor, though it is a bright, shiny Westfall day that belies the dark work she’s doing.

Light forgive me. She squeezes the trigger, and her crossbow bolt flies off, arcing through the air, kissed by the wind.

The talker is mid-sentence when the bolt strikes him through the head. He falls forward, carried slightly by the force of the bolt’s hit, and is dead when he hits the ground in front of his audience. The four other orcs go from shock to rage in under two breaths. Tiffin is already sliding forward out of her perch and into the light when she hears them spot her.

Guttural shouts of rage follow her as she dashes at an angle down the hill. Give them quarry, and they’ll give chase. Getting them mad helps with forcing them to make mistakes, but as much as Vice and Hector want to make them all out to be thoughtless brutes, Tiffin insists that they’re more clever than they seem. That’s why it’s not a matter of leading them into an obvious trap and hoping their rage blinds them to the clues; it’s making them trap themselves.

Tiffin is not a tall girl for her age. The crossbow is heavy when she can’t shoulder it, a cinched sack of weighty steel bolts is troublesome even when strapped to the small of her back, and even the minimal leather jerkin wasn’t nothing when she needed to put down as much foot speed as possible. The orcs are twice her height and seem to be crafted entirely out of muscle and rage, so it’s not even a contest about whether they could catch up, but when.

What the orcs see is a human girl with a big crossbow running scared. They see her turn her head to look back at them in terror, and then they see her ankle turn on a rock. They see her tumble with a cry over the lip of a ridge that they know slopes down towards a dried-out riverbed.

The four of them crest the ridge, expecting to see their wounded quarry on the ground. Instead, their quarry is standing in the riverbed with her crossbow up, three other hunters with readied weapons alongside her, and before the orcs can stop their descent down the slope, the humans have all fired once.

Only one orc is still alive when their bodies arrive at the bottom of the slope, and true to form, he is instantly up swinging with his oversized barbed mattock. His rampage is cut short, however, when Hector jumps off the rock he was crouched behind and buries his axe in the orc’s shoulder. The orc goes down in a heap, which Hector then victoriously stands atop to ensure his victim doesn’t get a second wind.

Tiffin is already giving orders as she walks towards Hector, and the other hunters move immediately to their tasks. Hector, satisfied that the orc is good and dead, extracts his axe and moves to sit down and clean gore off his axe. He looks up as Tiffin approaches, and speaks through a grin on his face. “Well met, rabbit.”

Tiffin isn’t smiling. “They’re strengthening the patrols.”

Hector rolls his eyes. “You can’t take a moment to appreciate victory?”

One of the other hunters squeals as the corpse he was checking reaches up and grabs him around the neck. Tiffin’s crossbow twangs, the bolt goes thunk under the orc’s ear, and the hunter gasps for breath as he lands on the earth again.

Tiffin rounds on Hector. “It’s not victory until every single orc body is out of our city for good. Now listen: strengthening the patrols means they suspect trouble out here. We need a new plan. Picking off low-tier grunts isn’t a long-term strategy.”

Hector throws up his free hand in defeat. “You feel free to take that up with Vice. I just take orders.”

You should be taking orders from me. “Well, Vice ordered you along with us so we could haul the bodies back. I’ll keep an eye out.”

Hector gives a lazy salute, wisely choosing to not argue. Tiffin makes sure her hunter is all right, then heads back up the ridge she theatrically tumbled down to lure the orcs into the trap.

It wasn’t the first time she’d done it, and she knows it won’t be the last. But the orcs will get wise to the same trick if you play it on them enough times.

That’s why she chafes when Vice and Hector talk of the orcs as if they were merely brutes. We lost our kingdom to these brainless green bastards, so if they’re so stupid, what does that say about us?

She pushes the thought away and nocks another bolt, just in case.

 

PROJECT FOUR: MONSTROSITY WARLOCK

Here’s the elevator pitch: “Hey, you remember Grimoire of Sacrifice back when it gave you new abilities for nomming your demon? Oh, and also remember when Warlocks had a glyph that kinda turned Metamorphosis into a tanking stance? Well, those two concepts got together in my head and a nasty, nasty baby.”

Concept/Fantasy: Monstrosity (Tank)

The Council of the Black Harvest continues to co-opt the power of the enemies that threaten Azeroth in order to use them against future threats. A new innovation involves mixing some of those destructive powers together in ways previously unforeseen. This has led to the creation of a spell that allows a warlock to blend the corrupting powers of the Void, the nightmarish resilience of the Old Gods, and the destructive power of the fel and transform into an abomination dubbed the “shadow hulk.” This monstrosity is voracious for the essence of enemy forces, consuming everything in its path.

While a shadow hulk, the warlock doesn’t have a permanent demon out. Instead, she consumes the demon in order to gain an additional ability, offering a number of choices suited for different situations. Now, summoning demons is still a thing, so if you pick a talent that summons a demon, they can do their thing and you’ve still got your ability, but you can choose to consume them before they expire and switch to a new ability.

The key for the shadow hulk is dealing a LOT of damage in order to turn it into big absorption shields via the Soul Leech passive. It’s not capped at a percentage of the warlock’s max health for Monstrosity, so you can accumulate some huge shields, but they’re still only temporary, so it’s going to depend a lot on using your damage cooldowns to time your mitigation right. So this is a very aggressive, high-risk, high-reward tank that will always want at least one target to feed off of.

Warlock (Monstrosity) TL;DR

  • turn into an infernal tentacle hulk to do battle
  • use a mix of shadow, fel, and fire spells to tank enemies
  • replenishing absorbs are the key source of damage mitigation

Shadow Hulk
Transform into a Shadow Hulk, increasing your Armor by x% of your Intellect and altering many of your abilities. While a Shadow Hulk, the size of absorption shields generated by Soul Leech are no longer capped at 15% of your max health.

Replaced Abilities

Shadow Bolt –> Voidfire Bolt
Taunt + Damage

Banish –> Devour
Costs 1 Soul Shard. Target Demon, Aberration, or Elemental is unable to take any action for 30s and is immune to damage. Your single-target damage is increased by 10% during Devour and for an additional 30s after Devour expires or is cancelled.

Command Demon –> Consume Demon
Consume your active demon, gaining a different ability based on which demon is consumed. Lasts 1 hour or until another demon is consumed.

  • Imp –> Sear Wounds (deal 5% of total health in damage to restore 25% health over 10s, 6s CD)
  • Voidwalker –> Empowered Shadow Bulwark (gain an absorption shield equal to 30% of total health for 6s)
  • Succubus –> All-Consuming Ecstasy (seduces a Humanoid target and deals x damage every 3s. Any OTHER damage dealt breaks the effect)
  • Felhunter –> Inhale Magic (interrupt a target’s spellcasting, preventing casting from that school for 6s. The next spell from that school that hits you deals 50% less damage)
  • Doomguard –> Ingest Magic (consume the next offensive spell cast against you, gain an absorption shield based on the damage that would have been dealt)
  • Infernal –> Shadowflame Aura (deal AoE Shadowflame damage to all enemies within 8 yards, but take 1% total health in damage every 3s while the aura is active. Lasts until cancelled)
  • … and there needs to be some kind of fallback ability for when you consume any other random demon you’ve enslaved.

New Abilities

Grasping Tendrils 
Target area erupts with tentacles, slowing the movement speed of enemies in the area by 50% and preventing them from leaving the area while the effect persists. Lasts 6s.

Wyrmbore 
Burrow through the ground, exploding upward at the targeted area. Deal X damage to targets within the area and taunt them for 2s.

Felfire Drill 
Deal x damage to the target (Targets within 2 yards of your primary target take 50% of this damage). Applies a debuff to the primary target increasing Shadow damage taken by 20% for 6s.

Talents

Tier 3-3: Paralyzing Tendrils: Grasping Tendrils now stuns targets for 6s. Enemies that die while while Grasping Tendrils is active cause you to generate a Soul Shard.

Tier 4-2: Sinister Feast
Devour no longer costs a Soul Shard to cast. While Devour is active on a target, you have a chance to gain a free Soul Shard once every 5s.

Tier 4-3: Soul Harvest
Increases your damage and your pets’ damage by 20%. Lasts 15s, increased by 2s for each target affected by your Grasping Tendrils, to a maximum of 35s.

Tier 5-3: Unending Arrogance
Unending Resolve’s damage reduction is increased to 50%. During Unending Resolve, if an attack would deal less than 5% of your maximum health in damage, the damage is ignored.

Tier 6-1: Grimoire of Sustenance
Passive: Your healing and absorbs are improved by 20%
Active: All healing and absorbs received are improved by 40% for 10s. 1m CD.

Tier 6-3: Grimoire of Symbiosis
Passive: Amplify the damage, healing, and absorb effects of abilities gained by Consume Demon by 50%.

Tier 7-1: Harvester’s Homunculi
Costs 1 Soul Shard. Place a Homunculus on a nearby ally. Damage done by that ally provides you an absorption shield equal to 20% of the damage done for 15s. The Homunculus lasts 1m, but also fades if the ally dies or is further than 20 yards away for more than 5s. Limit 3 Homunculi.

Tier 7-2: Infernal Armory
Consumes all of your Soul Shards. For each Soul Shard consumed, a nearby ally gains Infernal Armaments, increasing their damage by 25% for 10s. The Infernal Armory persists for 30s. You cannot regain Soul Shards while Infernal Armory is active; any effect that would grant you a Soul Shard instead grants Infernal Armaments to another ally, to an upper limit of 10. 10m CD.

Mastery: Hulk’s Assimilation
Your spell casts, melee strikes, and killing blows have a chance to increase your Leech to 500% + Mastery% for 6s. Trigger chance increases based on Mastery.


Have at it in the comments.

This is what I do folks, this is my art

(words inspired by the art and earnest wonderfulness of Faebelina)

EXT – Wooded Cliffside. SKYCALLER FAEBELINA sits on the cliff, wind in her hair, smiling contentedly. SOMEONE haughtily clears her throat off-screen.

Faeb says: “?”

A GOBLIN appears. She is wearing shaman’s robes and has a rock in her hand. The ROCK appears to have a crude face scrawled on it with charcoal.

Goblin says: “I’m Glitzy Glimmerrock, acquisitions expert of the Earthen Ring! And YOU my friend are sitting on some parTICularly valuable merchandise!”

Faeb says: “What do you mean? It’s just this cliff underneath me.”

Glitzy holds up the Rock and says: “Well my friend here, this earth elemental, says that a vein of corrupted gold is centered on this cliff-face.”

Faeb says: “Forgive me for being suspicious, but goblins love blowing up landscapes for fun and profit and it looks like you just drew a face on that rock.”

The Rock says: “HOW DARE YOU FLESHLING! I AM ALLOCHTHON AND THIS CLIFFSIDE IS MY HOME! WHAT THE GOBLIN SAYS IS TRUE!”

Glitzy says: “And the fact that I’ll make a killing selling the gold as ingots in Undermine is entirely coincidental!”

Faeb says: “what?”
Allochthon says: “what?”
Glitzy says: “what?”