Tooth & Arrows: Ganked By An NPC

Monday, July 11, 2011

A warning for those who will read this who have NOT played through the Death Knight starter area, in Wrath Of The Lich King and beyond. Here, there be spoilers. Skip the block quoted part of the post to avoid them.

I’ve talked about Ionaria, my Troll Druid, and how she’s the first Horde character I’ve ever had that I really liked. Well, now I have two. At Lona’s suggestion, I decided to make a Death Knight on the same server, solely because they start at high level (55) and come out of their starting zone geared in blues for Outland, and I would be able to make some quick cash to help bankroll the server. The problem is, while I’ve made multiple Death Knights in the past, there’s only one that I’ve ever felt like playing beyond the starting zone, and that’s Reyune, my Worgen DK on Galakrond. And that’s because I put so much thought into creating him and his design and personality and back story that I not only fell in love with him as a character, but he’s the first WoW character that I’ve bonded.

Therein lies the problem, however – I didn’t like the way any of the Horde races looked as DKs. The Worgen DK… well, he was a nightmare coming at you, twice cursed, huge fangs… I mean, what’s more terrifying than a super-powered undead werewolf? Then Lona suggested I build a story for my Horde DK as well, so I’d enjoy playing her. And then she made the best suggestion I’ve ever heard – Why don’t I build the DK as whatever class/race combo she would’ve been BEFORE being a DK, and then click the DK class button to convert that? Suddenly, creating her became SO much easier.

I built her as a Tauren Druid, and already a story was building up in my head. She was Exalted with Cenarion Circle, and one of their advance guard sent to replant and clear the Scourge’s taint from the Plaguelands. However, in doing so, she was killed in battle and her body taken by the Scourge.

I clicked the “Death Knight” class button, and her whole life ended… and was reborn. Reborn as a DK, she was under the thrall of the Lich King, her connection to the Earthmother severed – that is, except for a tiny Cenarion Hippogryph Hatchling that followed her wherever she went – the hatchling baby of her mount that had been killed in the same battle where she lost her former life. (I went to the mail box that’s a PITA to get to the moment I created her, pulled all my BOA pets out of it, and summoned the hatchling immediately when this part of the story came to me.)

If the Death Knight, Koratana, saw the hippogryph, she paid it no mind. Though in the story, it was constantly hiding. The Hippogryph mounts are incredibly intelligent, and being born of the Cenarion Circle itself, this one sought to reestablish Koratana’s connection to the Earthmother. Slowly, the Lich King’s voice quieted in her mind, and the more people she killed and hurt, the more some part of her began to cry out in desperation. So when she reached a certain quest and had to take the life of a certain NPC, that was all it took to all but snap the Lich King’s hold over her mind.

Now we reach the part of the story where the player, IE, me, made a decision that the character wouldn’t have made. And herein lies the spoilers.

During the battle for Light’s Hope Chapel, I normally do what my conflicted character would do – I hide. Nothing the player does can make the battle go any faster – it’s dictated by numbers and the NPCs massacring each other is more than enough to cause what is going to happen to happen. And as all DKs are in the part of their progression where they’re shaking off the Lich King’s control and remembering the heroes they once were, it isn’t a hard jump to imagine that the DK “Champion” of the Scourge would get as far out of the battle as they can and hide while the last vestiges of the Lich King’s control over their minds is shattered by the Light itself.

This being said, I normally hide in Light’s Hope Chapel during this part of the storyline. But this time, I decided to participate in the battle. So I followed one of the Scourge Highlords around and attacking anything he attacked.

So then, there I was, at the end of this “epic battle,” when the mock cut-scene takes over and you get the last of the DK story, basically. However, the last NPC I’d been attacking remembered me for some reason. During the actual battle, you have a huge health regeneration buff on you, so even if you’re being beaten on by five or six Elites, you actually have a fairly good chance of killing them before they kill you. But the moment the counter reaches the correct numbers and the battle ends, you lose that buff.

However, this particular NPC remained pissed at me. I walked over to kneel where I usually plant a DK character during this sequence… and the NPC leaped up out of where he’d been kneeling for his OWN part of the cut scene, came running over, and killed me with a single blow.

Huh, I thought. That’s weird… I walked back to my body, rezzed… and he immediately jumped up, charged me, and killed me again. I blinked. I tried rezzing from further away this time – and he still came running up and ganked* me. It was as if I was in PVP and had annoyed another player to the point that they were corpse-camping* me and taking every opportunity to kill me. I realized by the 3rd time that I was caught in some sort of glitch, because there was no way that this was supposed to happen.

The person you turn the quest that all of this is a part of was standing right next to my nemesis when the cut scene was over. It took four more deaths before I could turn the quest IN, and get sent back to Ebon Hold to finish out the zone. Normally, I would have simply used my Death Gate spell to return there, however the NPC still had aggro on me, and the DG spell is a lot like a Hearthstone or mounting – you can’t do it if you’re considered by the game to be “in combat.” And because of one NPC who apparently was holding a grudge against me, I couldn’t do any of those things. So I went with the time-honored tradition I practice regularly on my main (which has lead me to get the strange compliment recently of being “really good at surviving”) – I ran away.

But the NPC kept chasing me, and even when he STOPPED chasing me, I was still under constant aggro warning. So I couldn’t mount, I had no speed boost, and it was a damn long way back to the Scourge Gryphons, if they were even still THERE given that I’d phased out of the zone at that point. So I did the only thing I could do – I kept running.

In case you’re wondering – no, this was not part of my character’s story. She witnessed the events the way a DK is supposed to, then Death Gated on to her next quest after reuniting with the hippogryph hatchling, who finally came out of hiding when she was free of the Lich King’s taint. She still cannot channel her former Druid abilities, and never will again – something she is in emotional agony over at the moment… but the little hatchling is a reminder that the Earthmother is still there, even if she can no longer feel her, and Koratana is determined to find a way to feel nature again, the way she should as a Tauren and a trained Druid – she refuses to be nothing but a blind instrument of death, no matter what happens to her. I plan on her story to include befriending Ionaria (who I had to log into to send her 10 gold by the end of all the times the NPC killed me, by the way – she’d racked up that high of a repair bill, and definitely didn’t have that on her – I pity anyone who has this glitch where a DK is their only character on the server), and slowly learning how to reconnect to life and nature, despite her Death Knight status. She will become exalted with the Cenarion Circle again, and will ride a Hippogryph – at which point the hatchling following her will have grown up, and have a hatchling of it’s own.

Ultimately, it was a fun and interesting situation and now I have another DK that I enjoy playing and who’s story I enjoy greatly. I haven’t bonded her… yet. I say yet, because I spent last night dreaming about Taurens and things that I think were her living-world past. Either that’s a bond in formation… or just the writer in me filling in the gaps. I’ll know which depending on if she starts commenting on things in the next few days. 😛