Thursday, November 6, 2008

Epic drops come with a good story

What makes a drop epic?

Is it the purple colour? Certainly not, especially these days when “purple rain” has got a new meaning.

Is it the extraordinary stats? Well it could be, but it depends on where in the life cycle of a game you are. A year ago a huge increase of gear stats would have felt epic, but now with the expansion around the corner we all know that it doesn’t mean much. The epics we loot now will be replaced if not on Day 1, at least somewhere along the road to 80.

No, what really makes a drop epic is the coolness of the item. It can be rare, like Ashes of Al’ar, the mount that drops from Kael’thas Sunstrider in TK. It can be have a look that sticks out from the crowd and is easy to recognize, like the Warglaives of Azzinoth, dropping from Illidan. (If you ever meet a rogue carrying two of those you’ll notice them, I promise.)

But epicness can also be invisible; the item can carry a story, be a part of the Warcraft lore. And if you ask me, I love this aspect of epic drops most of all. There’s nothing that beats a good story.

The story of an epic skull
Now, for the first time in the game as far as I know, I’ve achieved a truly epic item. It happened a few nights ago, when we killed Illidan once again and The Skull of Gul’dan dropped.

If you haven’t heard about this skull I’ll tell you a little more about it. According to Wowwiki it’s the same skull as Illidan is carrying in the cinematic opening movie of The Burning Crusade.

To make the story short, the skull originates from a warlock named “Gul’Dan”. Still containing a part of the warlock’s soul, it was used as a sort of totem, to evoke demonic powers, by which you could open portals and corrupt forests.

Finally the skull came into the hands of Illidan Stormrage and he “consumed” its powers (hm… how comes that “eating brains” comes into my mind?). That’s how he became half nightelf, half demon. Since this event, the power of the skull is “weakened”, but it isn’t entirely useless.

Thanks to those powers Larísa from now on, without fearing to be turned into a half demon, can tap the power of the skull every now and then, meaning that her spell haste rating increases by 175 for 20 sec.

Spending my dkp
Knowing about the existence of the skull (and the staff of Illidan, which also is cool - it looks like a vacuumcleaner with a beast in the end), I had saved dkp for a long time. In the beginning it was saving by default – my dkp simply wasn’t enough to compete with the veterans of the guild for any kind of loot.
But the last few weeks I’ve been deliberately passing on some nice bracers, backs and off hands and a bunch of T6 parts. In fact I haven’t had an upgrade for months. Not until now in the shivering last few minutes of TBC, in one of the few remaining raids before we’ll turn our backs to BT forever.

I could have saved my dkp for WotLK. But when it came to a decision I chose not to. I was prepared to give everything I had to get this skull into my hand. Not because it was an upgrade – it wasn’t impressive at all, according to Rawr, the tool I use to evaluate gear. But I wanted it badly since it came with a story.

A souvenir from TBC
To make things even better it turned out that my dkp didn’t only get me the skull this night, but also a T6 chest and T6 gloves. But even if these items are great upgrades, they can’t compete in any way. The skull became my perfect ending of TBC, my souvenir and trophy, summing up all of my adventures.

Even if I may have to replace it sooner than I want to, I know I’ll always carry it hidden in my backpack as a reminder of the long journey I’ve done, from being a totally confused newbie to raiding the end boss of BT and as a reminder about the rich lore there is in the game if you only care enough to look for it.

The only thing I regret is that trinkets aren’t visible. How cool wouldn’t it be if Larísa could take out the skull from her pocket, whenever tapping it for powers? Well, you can’t have everything, can you?
Some final thoughts about epics
Finalizing this post I realize that I failed to mention the most important aspect of epic drops. Of course the epic drops I appreciate most are connected to epic memories. Things you get from a guild first kill of a boss carry stories of their own, even though they're not in the annuals of the Warcraft lore.
But I still think that Blizzard should develop the stories about items a bit further. It would certainly add some epic coolness to them. There are many casual players who never will be able to get items such as the skull. Wouldn't it be nice if there were interesting stories about the things you can get from ordinary instance runs and the more advanced quests?


David said...

Larísa, after reading this article and your previous one before it on Kungen, I have to say that your writing skills are excellent. And its not saying 'Oh you're not from a country with English as the primary, native tongue, and so grats on getting a hold on English', it's more like, 'Wow, that's a great, well-written story .' Way better and more interesting than my blog ramblings, and better than most stuff out there (sometimes the writing at Wow Insider leaves a lot to be desired). The tone and style is top-notch. You've showed me what good blog writing is, and set the bar for me to strive for. I'm a technical writer by trade, which is way different than writing a narrative or opinion piece, and this has been a real eye-opener for me.

Sorry to gush, but I was really impressed by and enjoyed these two articles. Thank you and keep up the good work!

Spicytuna said...

Grats on the Skull!!! It is a great item with a great story behind it. Plus it looks cool when you activate it!

I believe it will be one of those items that will last well into raiding at level 80 when Wrath hits.

In my opinion, it should have been a "Legendary" off-hand, rather than a trinket. It has a lot of history behind it, even more than the Altiesh.

Anonymous said...

Wow... Grats!

In an ideal world we would have a Trophy Cabinet in game... one that allows us to show off our past conquests.

Sure Achievements are great for saying you have been to an instance, but we need the class bookshelf on which to place those items that were Epic to our character, no matter what the color.

Something to show the Grand-Gnomes

Anonymous said...

Greetings Larissa!. That´s really a trophy that worths a permanent bank slot...And an honor stand over your´s inn flameplace.

Agree with tuna, its a pity its not considered a legendary offhand.

Gevlon said...

It's not the trinket that's epic. It's just an item id on a Blizzard server. The game is just a simulation, nothing real inside.

What is epic is the "long journey I’ve done, from being a totally confused newbie to raiding the end boss of BT".

It's not the trinket that's epic. It's you, who gained it.

Anonymous said...

Can i ask where you find the Lore out?

I have tried to find a few sites to read of the lore but can never find out.

Infact thats my next blog thanks Larissa <3

Captain The First said...

That is indeed an epic skull. That skull has been floating around in wow lore and games for so even I would happily spend all my guild's non-existing DKP on it.

A good memento from TBC that's certain.

I still think my cannonball runner I picked up from somewhere I can't remember is still the coolest thing I own on my paladin.

Arrr mobile cannons he he

Still gratz on the skull... although I have troubles picturing you with a skull... maybe scalp a pink pigtailed gnome and re-use the hair for the skull :P

Captain The First said...

@esdras: This is a decent place to start lore-wise.

Beyond that a bookstore might provide some surprises because there's a lot of warcraft reading material out there.

Unknown said...

gratz on the skull! Having and item that is full of lore is epic indeed =).

Tyrande's memento anyone? Awesome healing trinket but when you think about the connection of Illidan to Tyrande ... so much history and lore between them two.

Anonymous said...

@ David: Goodlord, you really want to silence me for ever! That's some counterspelling... How could I write anything more after that? How could I ever live up to your expectations? I hold on my right to write crappy posts every now and then like anyone else :)
But thank you. Of course.

@Spicytuna: yes, where else should a skull be than in your hand? I'd look like a Hamlet junior.

@Gnome@Eishen: I'm so rediculously fond of this one that I doubt it will collect dust on a shelf or in the bank. It will be in my bag when I don't use it anymore. Hey, I keep dragging around crap like the dancing brazers, then I could as well give a slot to this one.

@Gevlon: yes, the symbolic value is huge in many aspects. Still I try not to think to much out of the perspective "it's just an id or pixels". I want to get involved, enchanted, seduced by everything the game offers me. Including skulls.
And me - epic? Hm... I need to think about that. But I'm glad you're telling me this. It feels nice to hear.

@Esdras: as I pointed you out in a comment on your blog, Wowwiki is a great place to start. And the novels.

@Captain the first: omg: a skull with pink pigtails... and Larísa without hair... I shiver at the very thought of it.

@Herc: I don't know about the item of obvious reasons, but I remember her from a novel I read past summer. Illidan had a crush on her if I remeber it right, but her heart belonged to his brother... No wonder he vent evil, the poor guy.

Shwitz44 said...

Grats on the Skull, Larisa! Easily one of the more lore-drippingly fun items in the game.

Unknown said...

If you do a search on Illidan's history on wiki you'll see how much Tyrande has moved Illidan so many many times even during the times he went evil.

He even declared truce so he can save her at one point. Such a sad story >_< poor fella indeed.

Fish said...

I think what makes something epic has nothing to do with the color of the drop, but the amount of effort you put into getting it. When I first started playing, I would see people around town with the hellreaver, it looked amazing, I wanted it. For over a year, I longed for it, but it took me a while to decide to get to outlands. I finally got it on an alt in a PuG. To me, that was epic, even though the item is only a blue and not that hard to get.

Anonymous said...

It's always fun to encounter the lore-related items. Skull of Gul'dan, Memento of Tyrande, Garona's Signet Ring... I do enjoy picking up an item that has history to it, even if I'm not always enough of a lore junkie to immediately recognize the reference. :)

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with David here. Whenever I get to the end of one of your posts, I'm disappointed. Never by the post itself, but because the post is over. No matter how long your posts are, they're always a quick, enjoyable read. You write in style that allows the details of your thoughts to flow. Nothing ever seems forced. Thanks for sharing them with us. =)

Anonymous said...

@Josh: thanks!

@Fish: another aspect on it and I agree about that one as well. It was a little annoying after all the work I put into my spellstrike hood that it was replaced in a matter of weeks... it's spent a long time in the bank being a reminder of an epic grind until I recently used it in an epic fight: Mother Shaz, with a shadowres enchant. That felt good!

@Herc: oh I really should look more deeply into that lovestory. sounds very touching.

@Seri: Same here, that's why I wrote "as far as I know". I may have had some lore connected items without realizing it.

@Devv: another counterspell! Oh my, oh my... I get paralyzed. But thank you very much, your encouragement really means a lot to me.