Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lore: The Dwarves' Wasted Opportunities

After witnessing so much story and political turmoil being added into the majority of the Horde races in the Cataclysm expansion, I take a look at the wasted opportunities that the Alliance races could've been developed by Blizzard.
"In the power vacuum that followed, his estranged daughter, Moira, who had married into the much despised Dark Iron clan, briefly claimed Ironforge’s throne and effectively locked down the city. If not for the intervention of King Varian Wrynn of Stormwind and his son, Prince Anduin, her brash actions might have sparked another civil war. With Varian’s guidance, control of Ironforge has since been divided equally among the Bronzebeard, Wildhammer, and Dark Iron clans through the Council of Three Hammers. Yet as bitterness and prejudice fester among the clans, the council’s ability to govern as one remains uncertain."

- excerpt of Blizzard's description of the Dwarf race.
Oh really?

Take a trip to Ironforge.
Look around.

Oh yeah, that looks like civil unrest.
The place and characters really feel like they were on the brink of a civil war.
I mean with all of those Dark Iron dwarves walking around like they own the place or at least show their presence...

/end sarcasm

The Shattering... of NOTHING
Ironforge in-game should not be like it currently is.
You should have dialogue between the NPCs.
They should be worried, mistrusting, shushing when patrols are about to walk by them.
You should see bunches of different clans of dwarves gathered in all different corners of the city.
Certain corners and walls and bridges should be showing signs of the Cataclysm.
But if that's asking for too much, then at least Ironforge should shows the signs that the Dark Irons have stepped in the place.
That The Shattering novel happened.
That their short story happened.
The Dark Irons held the city under siege.
They kidnapped and beat up other dwarves, killed gryphons, started fires.
People were being paranoid and scared during that time and don't you think for a second that the founding of the Council of Three Hammers totally makes all of that okay in people's minds.
They don't trust the Dark Irons - with reason.

Divide and Conquer
Moira Bronzebeard is a wonderful character to work with, from a writer's perspective.
She's shown that she's a schemer, a skilled politician, and a backstabber.
After her failed coup in trying to crown herself Queen/Empress of the Dwarves, she tried a different tactic, trying to gather the dwarves and sway them in her favor.
Instead of denying the rumors concerning the Dark Irons, she spread false rumors about the Bronzebeards and the Wildhammers, quite successfully.
And although the objective of her plan was literally shattered by Kurdran Wildhammer, the side effects of her maneuvering the dwarven clans still remain.
"The city of Kurdran’s ancestors was a simmering cauldron of old prejudice. It churned endlessly, its toxic fumes dissolving whatever logic and reason remained within the Bronzebeard, Wildhammer, and Dark Iron dwarves living together in Ironforge for the first time in over two centuries. And Kurdran was standing at the edge of it all, gazing into its fiery heart with confusion as it grew closer and closer to erupting."
"By the following week, the tension among the clans had become a smoldering coal; it was still present, but the threat of violence seemed distant."

- excerpts of The Council of Three Hammers: Fire and Iron
So the rumors and mistrust should still somewhat be there.
The atmosphere of Ironforge should be slightly less grim than at the time of that event, but it should still be there.
The fate of the dwarves is clouded by uncertainty.
If it's not by rumors concerning each other, their crystallized leader should be enough of a reminder of their current situation.

Moira still has some explaining to do
She says with full honesty that the Dark Irons have changed and will now work alongside the Alliance.
The ones that have followed her, of course, not the other ones that are still out there.
Then how can anyone tell if ANY Dark Iron they encounter is a "bad" Dark Iron or one of Moira's "good" Dark Irons doing something bad?
It's clearly shown in a low-level quest that the other dwarves can only take her on her own word, for what that's worth.
Which really means, given the pile of negatives that she's accumulated so far, that it's better not to trust her at all.

Which brings me to a point I want to briefly mention...

Bulls**t in the Snow
Ok so you've all ran the Blood in the Snow scenario, right?
You've listened to the prologue from Lorewalker Cho.

So now if you've read The Shattering and the dwarves' short story, you should be aware - as I've stated just a minute ago, that you cannot trust the political maneuverings of Moira Bronzebeard.
In other words, the Bronzebeards and the Wildhammers know in their right minds that the Dark Irons should not be left alone without supervision, and whoever is doing the supervision needs a good backup.
Of course, this gives Moira the perfect opportunity to show that the Dark Irons are the goody-two-shoes she's always claimed they were, while Varian, completely blind to the whole situation, scolds the other dwarves for not wanting to help.
And because the operation is successful, Varian's all happy with the Dark Irons and now trusts them entirely. (Or at least, the scenario is showing that to be the case, whatever his previous thoughts on the matter of the Dark Irons and Moira were.)
King Varian Wrynn says: Well fought. I see the Dark Irons are as formidable as ever.
Moira Thaurissan says: That they are, King Varian. And at the service of the Alliance, I might add.
King Varian Wrynn says: Hah! For that, I'm glad. The Bronzebeards and Wildhammers will regret not having been here to share in your glory.
Moira Thaurissan says: Better they're grateful for the clansmen spared death on this miserable hilllock. We sought to protect and impress, not to shame.
King Varian Wrynn says: Well, you've done just that. Come: let us return to Ironforge, and announce your victory to the Council.

Either this is a clever move on the story department at Blizzard, or they nullified what they had been previously building.
Also, Varian going from "almost assassinating Moira Bronzebeard in cold blood and telling her right to her face that her doesn't trust her and will be sure to keep a watch on her each and every mood" to "hey you killed a bunch of trolls - we sure could use good people like you in the Alliance" seems like some kind of oversight - or maybe we'll learn later that he was just playacting for the sake of appearances and also to see the Dark Irons in action.

Bring back Ironforge and move it forward
Again, after all I've explained here.
Take a trip to Ironforge.
Look around.
Nothing transpires into the game.
But hey the Horde got changes on their end due to political turmoil...

Ironforge is still a heck of a city.
It still looks great after all these years and I could understand on the developers' end why they wouldn't fix something that's not broken.
But a few updates would be nice.
Just enough to bring some attention back to the place, other than during the World Events, where people are reminded that there are other capital cities for their factions.

I've mentioned in my Gnomes article that they could help with the Explorer's League.
It should be something that lore-wise would also be something to bring forward even more.
The Hall of Explorers (Library and Museum) should have grown bigger and bigger and should be comprising more and more of elements they've discovered and studied in every new continent that's being "revealed".
Just remodel that whole section.
Show that their exploring has been progressing.
They've discovered so much about themselves and their origins.
You could even have sections for the main Titan facilities, just to get players interested to figure out what all this Titan business is all about.
Because they've started to put their efforts on all this fairly recently at the behest of Magni Bronzebeard, you could even show some of the other clans approve or not of this activity.

Another thing.
You know how a ton of players really loved the Lorewalkers and Lorewalker Cho's reenactments and Blizzard agreed they would move forward with that?
Put it there!
The question with implementing good ideas from a continent back into the staples of Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms is where are you going to add them.
Have another big space in between some bookshelves or tables and you can have some of the Explorers do their in-game cinematic storytelling there!

It all works together, guys.

The Frost Who?
Might as well throw another tidbit in there while I have the chance to do it.

What's happening with the Frostborn?
...remember them?

Should they be accepted as a part of the Ironforge dwarves?
Should they have a seat in the Council?
What happens if they don't?
Muradin would be representing 2 dwarf clans, now.
What about the Bronzebeards that are happy/not happy with the decision (whichever sides it goes)?
Surely, with Muradin's help and return to his brothers, and him being a part of the Council of Three Hammers, their existence should be of great interest and also a source of contention.

We need to dig deeper
We're not done with Dwarves.
There's plenty left to do with them.
But there's a lot of the internal tension that's missing.
There's this drama inside the faction and the city that could bring Ironforge and the Dwarves back into the spotlight if it could only be reflected in the game.
And that would make it wonderful for the player who discovers that even after all the feuding and the mistrust and the clashes of the three (four?) types of dwarves, that even through all of this, the Alliance still manages to pull through whatever the universe has to throw at them.
And that is what makes your character truly heroic.

One of the effects of the Cataclysm has been to bring insecurity to all characters, to know that the world is changing and people are changing with it.
And also that the place we call home is not safe from harm, be it from a rising of the elements or the inner turmoil of a society that is trying to keep their cauldron of emotions from tipping over.

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