I once wrote that I would be really disappointed if, after infiltrating Icecrown Citadel, my first view of Arthas would be him sitting alone on the Frozen Throne. I wanted him to be surrounded by thousands of ghouls or something like the most annoying Death Knight you’ve ever seen.
Yet that’s exactly what we got once we reached the Frozen Throne. To ruin the moment even more, our 10 man wasn’t exactly… serious and dedicated at that moment in time.
I distinctly remember taking the newly-created portal up to the Frozen Throne from the Upper Spire while our 10 man group was trying to hold the run together. Someone was AFK. Someone else was back in Dalaran. One of the tanks wasn’t responding over Vent. It was really late at night.
I patiently waited 10 seconds while the Frozen Throne was drawn around Cassandri as she floated in space (ok, new appreciation for the argument that Ensidia must have known that the environment was a “construct”). FYI – not exactly the most emersive game play moment in World of Warcraft. Hey, lets just show them that we create a Frozen Throne right in front of them!
And a minute later and I was sitting on The Lich King’s knee taking a screen capture like I was a child posing with Santa in a Shopping Center (see above). What do I want for Christmas, Santa? One Tal’thas, Dagger of the Blood King please.
We didn’t even give it one try that night. Someone was too tired. Or something. Who wages war on The Lich King (or T.L. King as my unit frames like to call him), killing all his friends on the way, and then expects the Lich King to just wait around undefended so that we can get some sleep? Our tanks and healers apparently. That’s who.
A few days after meeting the Lich King in person I noticed for the first time that right in the center of Dalaran the garden fountain has been dug out to make way for a giant golden statue of some war heroes or something. I didn’t know what it was, so I wandered up and clicked on the plaque – expecting a little bit of text to pop up for me to read.
Instead my video faded to black… cut-scene video incoming! Oh no – this must be something to do with someone on the server killing the Lich King. I canceled before it started. I didn’t want to see something that tells me how the Lich King died or what happens next. Not until I kill him myself.
You see, in my World of Warcraft, the Lich King is still live and kicking (or undead and kicking?). He’s not dead. Yet.
The statue is meant to reinforce that we’re living in a persistent world – confirmation that actions you take have lasting effects on the environment around us. The Lich King is dead on Barthilas because 25 people killed him a couple months back.
So why does my guild try and kill him each week?
During 3.2 (and the start of 3.3) Rhonin would spend a couple evenings over the weekend walking down the streets of Dalaran declaring “our lives are worth living” only to be chased right back to his favourite spot in the Silver Enclave to do it all over again. Every time Algalon is killed. It’s great when you’re the one who starts the event but after a little while it really does lose meaning. Oh.
Me: “Where’s Rhonin? I want to tell him that we killed Algalon the Observer”
Rhonin (in the distance): “… and our lives are worth living!”
Me: “What?! We killed him and Ulduar was totally deserted except for our small raiding party tonight!”
Back to The Lich King is Dead “status”. It’s nice to know that some outstanding guild on my server has killed him. But they didn’t kill him for us, for me. In my story I am the hero that is going to save the rest of the world by slaying the Lich King. Well me and my 24 friends.
I’m assuming that the cut-scene shown by clicking the statue is identical to the one you would see when you kill The Lich King yourself. If I wasn’t already raiding the last wings of Icecrown Citadel would I have found it so easy to resist watching? What if I knew that even with a 50% Strength of Wrynn buff I might not get that far into Icecrown Citadel?
If I wasn’t a raider, sure, I think I might have just given in and watched it. But I figured that I could wait a few weeks.
Turns out that that 10 man was a one off for me and most weeks our guild’s other Shadow Priest causes enough Misery for two of us.
When we reached him as a group of 25 and teleported up en masse, someone (I can’t remember who) demanded a 5 minute raid wide Vent silence so they could watch the opening cut scene in silence. That didn’t surprise me, what did surprise me was that two officers backed the order for silence and in a tone of voice that means don’t-mess-with-me-or-you’ll-get-minus-DKP. Yes, they were that serious.
We watched the opening cut scene in total silence. Only one person didn’t seem to be that interested and started talking about fight strategy with the disclaimer “he’s just a boss like any other”. Fortunately he was in the minority. The Lich King isn’t just another boss. Well, he’s not meant to be. If the fight feels just like any other boss to play it, than Blizzard have failed big time.
I can’t remember exactly what happens in that cut scene. But I’m pretty sure Fordring talked a lot. Later on that evening, mid discussion on how to handle Necrotic Plague or whatever, several people got into a really good argument about well… the story. You know, what is affectionately referred to as “LORE LOL” in serious raiding circles. The thing is, about half the raid were having this argument about Fordring, Arthas, Jaina, Frostmourne you name it, and I realised that everyone in the raid group had some kind of opinion on the major characters in the Wrath of the Lich King story.
Most of the time I absolutely hate talking about “lore”. Lore always seems very black/white to me. Perhaps that’s because I’ve actually played with people who can tell you exactly who fought what war where and cite reference material that back up their facts. I guess I think of the World of Warcraft story like it’s the Bible. Something that someone out there has read from front to back but most people (like me) just kind of get the gist of it. You know, the vibe.
I hate talking about lore because I never know the facts. The stuff I know about the World of Warcraft story is spotty. And I know that 5 minutes into a lore conversation anyone listening to me will realise I have no idea what I’m talking about. I tend to remember random nonsense from bit players in minor quests. If I had to give you the overall story of Warcraft I think it would sound like I was trying to give you the plot of Mission Impossible. All the key plot points would be missing and you’d still be asking “so why was that guy wearing a mask again?” 10 minutes later. And I wouldn’t be able to tell you.
I don’t really mind that the story I take away from World of Warcraft is about minor characters and minor plots. I like knowing that there’s a girl living just outside Lakeshire that has a tiny crush on Guard Thomas. I know about the begger in Stormwind who’s constantly asking for a sandwich… which he’ll be able to pay for next week, of course. If all the NPCs and ordinary folk didn’t have their own stories and personalities I don’t think it would really feel like World of Warcraft. Wouldn’t it just be Wacraft IV… the Never-ending Warcraft sequel?
All my knowledge of the “big” picture Warcraft plot comes from places outside the game World of Warcraft – books and other games. When Arthas burns the ships on the Forgotten Shore – well that’s from the Warcraft III campaign. That Arthas got his horse Invincible killed through his own stupidity – that’s from Arthas: Rise of the Lich King.
So yeah, the cut scenes help.
To give it credit, there is a lot of memorable moments in World of Warcraft. I don’t know huge amounts about Tirion Fordring but helped to get his son killed when his son was high up in the Scarlet Crusade hierarchy. I watched Tirion (at the end of an escort quest) vow to establish the Argent Crusade. That’s something, right?
Twice now I’ve had to stand by while Jaina pulls her pacifist crap at critical moments in the story. I became disenchanted with her character the fire time I first saw her smacking stuff with her staff as an NPC in the Battle for Mount Hyjal. She’s a mage, meleeing. You’d kick her from a PuG for that kind of behaviour. If that wasn’t bad enough, watching her permanently freeze and slow The Lich King (oh Arthas /cry Arthas!) in Halls of Reflection was frustrating as all hell. So much power. So wasted! If she could just get her act together she could take on The Lich King herself and save us all the trouble.
Actually most of my opinion about characters in the game are based on how I see their NPC behave. Varian kicked ass in the Battle for Undercity. How about Alexstraeza when she single-handedly stopped the fight at the Wrathgate? These are heroes worthy of respect! Although I still think Alextraeza showed up a bit late to the party.
Fordring always seems to be hanging around. I respect that. At least he’s at the front lines of his own Crusade. He was there when we built the Argent Pinnicle base camp and he’s right there waiting as you enter the Citadel.
I’ve yet to complete the Death Knight starting area so I was a bit anxious when a guild member informed me that the argument between Fording and The Lich King as you clear the whole first section of Icecrown Citadel is based on the events covered in that part of the game. I’m watching the story out of order! Actually now that I think about it, it’s kind of strange that a year after clearing Naxxramas I’m co-conspirators with the likes of Instructor Razuvious (why did we need to Mind Control his Understudies when we have our own Death Knights, huh?), Gothik the Harvester and Noth the Plaguebringer. Aren’t these people are dead by now?
Or does the story only make sense if you read/play it in the right order? Was I meant to complete the Death Knight starting zone in 2008?
I guess I could put it all down to weekly, behind-the-scenes mass resurrection. Nobody ever seems to die in this world permanently. Perhaps one day the statue in Dalaran celebrating the death of The Lich King will be torn down too.
“Icecrown Citadel was merely a set back!”
Note: I wrote this during the week and postponed publishing it because of all the Cataclysm stuff. Then we managed to kill The Lich King on Thursday. And I still didn’t get to see the cut-scene because I swapped to windows mode to mute Ventrillo and that’s as good as hitting “escape” apparently. Soon… soon I’m going to watch it in Dalaran. When I get a spare moment to appreciate it properly!