The Firelands

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The Firelands

Post by Bonetti » Fri Apr 29, 2011 8:11 pm

World of Warcraft (Cataclysm) patch 4.2 is coming to the PTRs soon, so Blizzard has started releasing information about where this is going. The big addition is, well, the Firelands -- the elemental realm of fire within the Warcraft cosmology. The patch comes with raid content and solo content, the latter heavily focused on quests.

Some previews: The creatures being added are interesting -- lava spiders, new differentiation in salamanders, firehawks, and Ragnaros himself gets a revamp. In addition, it looks like Ragnaros has recruited Fandral Staghelm to be his new majordomo (replacing Executus, the salamander who served him in the Molten Core), and Staghelm has built up a new set of followers (Druids of the Flame).

The Molten Front is adding Shadow Wardens (which I think is a new faction, and may be either the Cenarion or the Night Elf "jailer" faction) and more material about the Druids of the Talon. It also outlines one possible outcome of the Firelands vs. Hyjal fight (already carried out in Cataclysm's Mount Hyjal zone), and shows one way to handle a Firelands invasion in a Warcraft style.

Finally, with Deathwing fully evil and returned, there hasn't been an Earth-warder for a while. Thrall has apparently become lost to the elements, and Aggra will recruit people to return him (perhaps similar to the Mt. Hyjal quests to bring the Ancients back). The rumor is that the end of this quest chain will result in Thrall becoming the new Aspect of Earth (replacing Neltharion in the role of Earth-warder). This is, I will admit, much cooler than the older rumors that he would become the next Guardian of Tirisfal.

If I were running a game set in the world, it would be very, very tempting to mine this lore for a campaign -- there's a lot just in this patch, and combined with Cataclysm any of several paths could easily form a full-length campaign (1-20, 1-30, or whatever is comfortable :-) ).
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Re: The Firelands

Post by Bonetti » Wed Jun 29, 2011 7:45 pm

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Re: The Firelands

Post by Big Mac » Wed Jul 13, 2011 1:54 am

Bonetti wrote:World of Warcraft (Cataclysm) patch 4.2 is coming to the PTRs soon, so Blizzard has started releasing information about where this is going. The big addition is, well, the Firelands -- the elemental realm of fire within the Warcraft cosmology.
Nice to see the Firelands get done. How about the rest of the cosmology? Any plans for that on the horizon?
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Re: The Firelands

Post by Bonetti » Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:20 am

All four are at least partially represented. As of Cataclysm, Firelands is a raid, Deepholm is a questing zone (complete with earning one's way into the good graces of Therazane), Skywall has two instances (but is otherwise not fully present yet), and the Abyssal Maw intersects with Vash'jir and, like Skywall, hosts a couple of instances.

Just as with the other non-Azeroth worlds, there is room to grow them as needed for story content, but one can see a taste of how to make them gameable in the current expansion.
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Re: The Firelands

Post by Big Mac » Mon Jul 18, 2011 9:21 pm

Thanks for the clarification.
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Re: The Firelands

Post by Ivellius » Tue Aug 02, 2011 2:35 pm

I'm an immigrant! No, but seriously, as one of the more active posters on the "forumer" community, I figured I'd finally register over here.

There does seem to be quite a bit going on in this patch. I've been away from the MMO for a while, but this post got me to go catch up on the state of affairs in Azeroth and look at some of the new lore that's come out (along with a few "tinfoil hat" theories). The Druids of the Flame seem like a great antagonist organization (as well as a new variant class...that's kinda my signature thing) with a couple of groups opposing them. It's enough to make me want to play the MMO again. I think I'll just content myself with working on some new material, though.

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Re: The Firelands

Post by Bonetti » Tue Aug 02, 2011 7:28 pm

Welcome to the Piazza!

I'm currently playing through the Molten Front portion, and can easily see this sequence being lifted more or less intact to form the basis of a serious campaign arc. Obviously, certain aspects would need to be changed (daily quests really aren't suitable for tabletop), but the story of reclaiming Mount Hyjal from the Firelands invasion stands. As you note, Druids of the Flame are quite promising, both as adversaries and as a class. I'd lean toward not allowing players to access it until the organization is reclaimed/broken by the defeat of Fandrel Staghelm, but that's just me.

In the 4e adventure path style, I'd be inclined to have the Firelands stuff consume the entire Epic tier (21-30), and possibly have the Molten Front bridge from late Paragon into Epic (~16-20). It could either start with other events at Heroic, or actually have the characters start with the destruction of Mount Hyjal as their backstory, then play through a version of the zone from Heroic to the Firelands invasion point. Either one would work, I think.
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Re: The Firelands

Post by night_druid » Mon Aug 08, 2011 2:40 pm

The Firelands officially suck. I walk through the portal, get lagged, and by the time my PC catches up, BAM! Dead. Sheez, the zone doesn't even give you a safe spot just beyond the portal so lag doesn't kill you right off the bat. Bastards.

;)
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Re: The Firelands

Post by Bonetti » Mon Aug 08, 2011 6:14 pm

Oh, that's easy to simulate at the table -- the DM should describe going through the portal, then take a "quick" break. Once the DM has returned, the party should be informed that they have all died, and when they check the combat logs, they see that it was a mysterious thing called "lag".

:-)

More seriously: are you talking about the Molten Front, or the actual raid instance? Molten Front is intense, since it has a bunch of dailies there. If your machine has trouble with mass battles in AV, or has trouble zoning into the major cities due to player population, Molten Front during peak hours is going to be rough, too. For the most part, the hostile elements are non-aggro most of the time -- they're rushing the defenders. However, one specific (but not every day) monster, the behemoths, has a fairly brutal ability they fire at random nearby areas which can hit you. At 15k per shot, give or take a smidgeon, it'll take even a geared character out if one isn't paying attention -- and if one is still loading everything, ouch.

On the bright side, they're not there every day :-)
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Re: The Firelands

Post by Bonetti » Thu Aug 18, 2011 8:08 pm

Bonetti wrote:All four are at least partially represented. As of Cataclysm, Firelands is a raid, Deepholm is a questing zone (complete with earning one's way into the good graces of Therazane), Skywall has two instances (but is otherwise not fully present yet), and the Abyssal Maw intersects with Vash'jir and, like Skywall, hosts a couple of instances.
On further reflection, I should clarify a little.

There is a Firelands raid. There are also small pockets of Firelands intersecting with Mount Hyjal throughout the quest chains there, and the Molten Front is a different section. It's pretty obvious that this is not intended to be all of the Firelands, but it's definitely the most developed of the four.

Similarly, there's one place in Vashj'ir which intersects with the Abyssal Maw. That was intended to be a raid piece during Cataclysm, but it's been dropped (and they're jumping ahead to Deathwing). So, you have the Throne of Tides as a taste. (Same, as mentioned, for Skywall.)

While we do see an area called the Throne of Therazane (and make friends with her elementals during the Deepholm quests), what we see of Deepholm is just stuff near the Earth Pillar. It's pretty clear Therazane doesn't want us there long-term, and that there's a lot more to Deepholm than this one cavernous area (chunks of which were hollowed out into a humanoid-compatible fashion as Deathwing healed and armored himself, then ripped free).
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Re: The Firelands

Post by Big Mac » Sun Oct 09, 2011 11:11 pm

Ivellius wrote:It's enough to make me want to play the MMO again. I think I'll just content myself with working on some new material, though.
They do have it on freeplay now (for the lower levels). I'll admit that has tempted me. I've never been good at the high level stuff. It is more like a reaction test than a game to me. I was more thinking that I could walk around the world and see things.

To be honest, I get more second-hand use from MMO, via Wowpedia and some of the suggestions here.
night_druid wrote:The Firelands officially suck. I walk through the portal, get lagged, and by the time my PC catches up, BAM! Dead. Sheez, the zone doesn't even give you a safe spot just beyond the portal so lag doesn't kill you right off the bat. Bastards.

;)
I used to get that too...

...in the streets of Stormwind! :roll:
Bonetti wrote:
Bonetti wrote:All four are at least partially represented. As of Cataclysm, Firelands is a raid, Deepholm is a questing zone (complete with earning one's way into the good graces of Therazane), Skywall has two instances (but is otherwise not fully present yet), and the Abyssal Maw intersects with Vash'jir and, like Skywall, hosts a couple of instances.
On further reflection, I should clarify a little.

There is a Firelands raid. There are also small pockets of Firelands intersecting with Mount Hyjal throughout the quest chains there, and the Molten Front is a different section. It's pretty obvious that this is not intended to be all of the Firelands, but it's definitely the most developed of the four.

Similarly, there's one place in Vashj'ir which intersects with the Abyssal Maw. That was intended to be a raid piece during Cataclysm, but it's been dropped (and they're jumping ahead to Deathwing). So, you have the Throne of Tides as a taste. (Same, as mentioned, for Skywall.)

While we do see an area called the Throne of Therazane (and make friends with her elementals during the Deepholm quests), what we see of Deepholm is just stuff near the Earth Pillar. It's pretty clear Therazane doesn't want us there long-term, and that there's a lot more to Deepholm than this one cavernous area (chunks of which were hollowed out into a humanoid-compatible fashion as Deathwing healed and armored himself, then ripped free).
So would Molten Front and the Abyssal Maw be side quests or totally different quests in the same area?
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Re: The Firelands

Post by Bonetti » Tue Oct 11, 2011 1:21 am

Big Mac wrote:So would Molten Front and the Abyssal Maw be side quests or totally different quests in the same area?
Molten Front is the Guardians of Hyjal incursion into the Firelands (payback for what's happening in Mount Hyjal). You can treat it either as a daily grind, or enjoy it as the story link to "open" Firelands (although if one hopped into the raid the moment it was available, one would be filling the story in after trying the raid...)

They didn't release a lot of information about their Abyssal Maw plans (which have been scrapped), so no idea how that would have worked out.
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Re: The Firelands

Post by Big Mac » Tue Oct 11, 2011 3:16 am

Thanks Bonetti.
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Re: The Firelands

Post by Bonetti » Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:45 pm

Bonetti wrote:They didn't release a lot of information about their Abyssal Maw plans (which have been scrapped), so no idea how that would have worked out.
I have no additional inside information, but trolling through the lore forum I ran across a complaint list about things which were dropped. That led me to read up on N'Zoth (the third named Old God, after C'Thun and Yogg-Saron).

They've been dropping pretty big hints about something stirring in the deep for a long, long time. They've also referenced Old Gods trapped under the ocean, and that was tied in with Neltharion's pursuit of the Dragon (Demon) Soul and his eventual change into Deathwing. There was an Abyssal Maw raid planned, and there's a storyline of the naga teaming with ancient horrors in Vash'jir.

Based on that, it's likely the Abyssal Maw would have been heavily Naga + Old God, with N'Zoth as the final boss. I suppose that they probably didn't want to lose Deathwing and one of the few remaining Old Gods all at once, especially since they seem to have resolved the Emerald Nightmare out-of-game.
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Re: The Firelands

Post by night_druid » Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:57 pm

Emerald Nightmare resolved out-of-game? Gee, surprise surprise. Just add it to the list of things Blizzard conclude in the most unsatisfying way possible. Not bitter or anything...;)
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Re: The Firelands

Post by night_druid » Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:19 pm

A thought just occurred to me: with all of the important in-game lore being resolved out of the game in comics, I'm really surprised Blizzard hasn't put upsell crap into their quest-chains. "Want to know how the Missing Diplomat chain REALLY concluded? Buy the online comic! Only $14.99! Add charge to your account? <Accept><Decline>"

:P
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Re: The Firelands

Post by Bonetti » Thu Mar 08, 2012 12:09 am

Bonetti wrote:They didn't release a lot of information about their Abyssal Maw plans (which have been scrapped), so no idea how that would have worked out.
Update: (Cataclysm Post Morten)
I feel like I should mention Abyssal Maw again. As with many cancelled features, it somehow took on a life of its own in the minds of players. Believe me, though -- you just don’t cancel things that you think are going to be awesome. It was three bosses inside Nespirah, with no unique art. The reason it was originally appealing to us was because we had so many Vashj’ir assets that we could use.
[...]
Firelands received a lot of new art, from bosses to environments, and we just didn’t feel like Abyssal Maw was going to compete.
So, a short raid (three bosses) inside one of the giant mollusc entities, all re-used art. If that's an accurate description (and, well, what purpose would be served by misrepresentation?), then it's probably good it was canceled. If they do return and want to do something with it eventually, they'll have room to be more interesting.
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Re: The Firelands

Post by night_druid » Thu Mar 08, 2012 12:55 am

Huh...no mention of the fact that they lost 2 million players with this expansion...;)

Sounds like the plans for Abyssal Maw were thrown together haphazardly. But I'm not really surprised; the underwater zone was rather chopping in quest execution and had that "unfinished" feel to it.
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Re: The Firelands

Post by Ivellius » Thu Mar 08, 2012 12:26 pm

Hm. I just completed Vash'jir the other day, and I wouldn't have characterized it as "unfinished." I didn't like it all that much, but it seemed pretty complete to me. Maybe it's different on the Horde side? I'm trying to think of any points that seemed choppy.

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Re: The Firelands

Post by night_druid » Thu Mar 08, 2012 12:36 pm

Its been quite a while, but I remember there were a few jarring points where things didn't transition well from one quest to the other. I'm told they dropped quite a few quests, particularly from Vash'jir, before Cataclysm was released. The naga history questline seemed to simply stop dead without a good ending.
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Re: The Firelands

Post by Bonetti » Thu Mar 08, 2012 6:45 pm

The naga history was going to be continued in the dungeons and raid, I think, and dropping those closed out the possibility of finishing the story (for now).

They didn't have time to finish filling out the zones as they stood, so they sort of tied it off. At a guess, they had one more set of naga history quests planned for that last corner (behind one of the giant molluscs), which now is nothing but an herb/mine farming area.

I think the bigger issue (which is also mentioned in the post mortem linked above) is the general scattering of the end-game zones. While they're self-contained, it's jarring to transition from one to another. The 1-60 revamp is really well done -- the 80-85 experience is less so.

Seeing the success of the Firelands, I would love to see what they would have done (as a comparable zone) for the Abyssal Maw. There are some real possibilities for a parallel event, and plenty of room to develop it in.
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Re: The Firelands

Post by Ivellius » Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:43 am

Supposedly, Abyssal Maw was just going to be inside one of the massive Nespirah creatures. They scrapped it because they decided, hey, we've already been in a couple of these before, why would we put a raid in here. Take that for whatever it's worth. If true, then yeah, it doesn't make it sound very good.

Unfortunately, they still haven't resolved the fate of the Tidehunter.

For the zones, I don't know. I think I actually felt they transitioned pretty well except for Uldum (if anyone's wondering, I did a third of Vash'jir -> Hyjal -> a third of Deepholm -> Uldum -> Twilight Highlands, then finished Deepholm and then Vash'jir). Harrison Jones, while he intersects a bit with Deathwing and the Twilight's Hammer, just killed the momentum of that zone for me. Hyjal -> Deepholm -> Twilight Highlands is pretty coherent in dealing with invading elements and cultists, so I think the arc held up pretty well for me.

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