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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mists Lore Speculation: Jaina Proudmore & Post-Garrosh Horde

MMO-Champion has been diligent in datamining the Mists Beta and the blogosphere has deftly followed any announcements from the Press Release which turned up some interesting bits of information related to Azeroth's peace-loving mage; Jaina. For those averse to spoilers and avoiding all Mists of Pandaria news, turn back now!

What we know so far

From the internet we know fairly certainly a few things:
  • Garrosh is going to be final boss
  • Theramore is going to get attacked by the Horde (and likely sacked)
  • Jaina is not going to like that
  • The Horde are going to need a new leader
From these bits of information I am of the opinion that events will play out something like this:

- Garrosh is power-mad, he wants Kalimdor to be all Horde and Theramore has always represented a sort of "unity" that he does not believe he attacks out of nowhere; possibly he is attacking even as the final Dragon Soul cutscene plays out....players could be sailing back from the Maelstorm only to find Orc ships blockading the harbor.

- Alliance players will end up fighting a losing battle, with their primary goal being attempting to evacuate the civilians. The Horde players will get to run around taking out defenses and eventually may attack Jaina directly.

- I suspect Jaina, even if a boss, will survive by escaping at the last moment, we know she is REALLY good at teleporting (she demonstrates doing it long-distance and instantly in several cinematics).

- The Horde "OCCUPY THERAMORE!" operation succeeds, Alliance may lose its quests in the area.

So there we have it...but what next?

Hell hath no fury like....

This is a familiar trope in WoW, Blizzard really likes the "Woman Scorned" (always by a man, if there is female/female disdain I have not seen it) the scorning does not always come from love. However we have Sylvanas, Lilian Voss, Zaela (sort of), Moira Bronzebeard...all who have vendettas against male characters (and Blizzard has struggled with giving these characters their own definition outside of "Hates _____") even Sylvanas has struggled to develop post-Wrath now that her primary enemy has been defeated and she is somewhat turning into him.

Jaina however is different; she's been scorned many times in the story (Kael, Arthas, Thrall) through love and war but every time it has only made her dedication to peace that much stronger. During the Wrathgate event she ensures peace, during the Ulduar cinematic she goes lengths to try and enforce peace (though Rhonin, ever the spotlight grabber, does it for her cause..apparently she can't?). Rather than give in to the Dark Side she's always held onto hope.

Also, unlike Sylvanas and Lilian, Jaina is a character that players have known a long time. For the majority of these "scorned" characters (male and female) we meet them shortly after they are set this way; in Warcraft 3 we met and killed Sylvanas in the same few missions. Lilian we meet after she's been left for dead. Jaina we've known since she teamed up with Arthas; we've seen her grow as a character and we've been beside her in good and bad times...this is new for the players, this is the first time a character we've known this long and this intimately will go over the edge.

Which leads me to the last tidbit we got out of Blizzard: This time she doesn't. Theramore is basically her baby, it is her symbol. To Jaina it is the symbol of the potential for peace and it is a symbol that the races CAN come together. She allowed her own father to die to ensure it remained a relatively neutral place. She condoned the killing of other humans to maintain that peace.

And Garrosh is going to step on that symbol, and that will be the last straw.

In the mind of Jaina, Garrosh hasn't just sacked some Alliance city (as has happened before) he just destroyed HER city; the city that has stood for years a symbol of peace, the city she has devoted herself to running. This would signal to her that the noble Horde that Thrall and Cairne created is mutating, becoming a twisted, violent entity in the likes of Sylvanas and Garrosh.

I suspect that we're going to see a side of Jaina that we've not seen before, the wrathful one, as she leads players against Garrosh....she might even lay the final blow like Maive did. Based on Jaina's past history I would suspect that after this she'll return to peaceful mode but this is something new; this is taking something that truly means something to her and ripping it apart...who knows, she might be on track to be right beside Bolvar as "next villain". Part of this I think will hinge on how the Alliance reacts to this...there is already division between Jaina and Varian, if he turns a blind eye to Theramore during all this that might seal her separation from the Alliance.

A Hole in the Horde

For the second time in as many expansions the Horde is going to find itself leaderless, which is strange for the Horde. While the Alliance has always presented (to me) an image of being a union of a bunch of nations with their own leaders, the Horde has been shown more like a group under Thrall/Garrosh's flag (Sylvanas and sometimes the Blood Elves not withstanding).

So what is next for the sons and daughters of Hellscream? Who could take up this mantle?

I have a few theories:

Overlord Saurfang: Ever since Wrath he has been hanging out in Northrend, and he chose to remain there to keep away from Garrosh and to maintain watch on the undead. He is depicted to be as powerful as Garrosh but with the tempered nature of Thrall...he is an honorable warrior and favorable leader; everything the Horde needs. Perhaps the siege of Ogrimmar from the Horde side might actually have him escorting players instead of Jaina. He'd fit perfectly in the role; but perhaps a little too well, which is why I am not in favor of him taking over. I love him as a character, but him taking the reins basically just puts the Horde back to where it was in Wrath.

Baine Bloodhoof: Son of Cairne and a natural leader; during the Shattering when Magatha Grim Failtotem tried to rise up he organized the defense and put a stop to it. He had the charisma to turn some of her operatives and is generally well liked. While he is a relatively new character to the story (he didn't take on much of a role until recently) he is basically Cairne 2.0. Him taking over the Horde would be a huge change; for the first time they would be behind the banner of a non-orc. This would shift the Horde from being "Orcs and their allies" to "Orcs, Tauren, Troll, Undead, Blood Elf, Pandaren and Goblin united". Bringing Baine into the front would also symbolically show a "rebirth" of the Horde, not as Garrosh's xenophobic, bloodthirsty warriors, and now as a nation of peace. This would also be a way of incorporating some of the Pandaren philosophy, though as I understand their leader is a bit more aggressive.

And the craziest one, but also the one I think I like the most:

Synthesis Republic of Ogrimmar: I came up with a cheesy title, but the premise here is the Horde taking a page from the Alliance's book and doing them one better. Instead of just being ~6 nations under one flag, they would form themselves into an actual single nation; from Ogrimmar a council of 6 (7 with pandas) leaders would rule (though this complicates getting that Black War Bear but I prefer story to loot). This would be very new for the Horde, a step away from their monarchy roots but also lets them thumb their nose at those "backwards" Alliance. The Horde has always symbolized a Meritocracy, with the most talented leading and the Orcs having something of a ceremonial forefront role...this would signal a shift to being Septem juncta in Uno (Seven joined in one) if we include the pandas.

In all realism I see one of the first two being more likely, though I suspect that the other races will start to play a bigger role; the TBC and Cata introduced races have always felt like they took a "back seat" to the original roles, it would be nice to see Lor'themar (Who?) actually DO something for once...and the Goblin leader, well he might count his money but I'd like to see the Goblins get a REAL leader, not their money grubbing meat-head.

So what do you think? Where do you think we'll be an Expansion + 3 Patches from now?

1 comment:

  1. It's good to read once in a while how WoW's narrative is heading. I was once very
    invested in its lore, although I'm aware that it is clich├ęd, unoriginal, and often
    insensitive towards racial and gender issues. But it was the game that followed the
    engrossing story of Warcraft 3 (still unoriginal, I admit, but Blizzard is a master at
    telling the most predictive stories in a compelling and satisfying way).

    I never liked Jaina. Perhaps part of it was due to her over-the-top innocence,
    good-hearted nature, with no moral flaws whatsover. The other part might have
    probably been her aesthetics and the voice-acting, which were consistent with this
    image of sanctity.

    " So what do you think? Where do you think we'll be an Expansion + 3 Patches from
    now?" I lost track of WoW's story and wouldn't make a good prediction, but at least I
    can state my preference: I want Kael'thas back. Or Illidan. Or both. Those were the
    most compelling characters/villains, killed off prematurely, in my opinion. I heard
    some rumour about Blizzard considering reintroducing Illidan, which isn't that
    outlandish considering how they are running out of lore-supported content. Yes,
    they could bring some new enemies into Azeroth, but those would never be so
    engrossing as the ones that belonged to Azeroth in the first place.

    For a time, I had the theory-hope that they would bring back Kael'thas in a
    redeemed form, to access the throne again. Lor'themar has always had a surrogate
    nature about him, not participating meaningfully in any plot, either for his brethren
    or as an ally of the Horde. Somehow, this disconnection is felt in the Horde itself,
    having a more eccentric nature than the Alliance because of the unequal treatment
    of its races in the world schemes. One could argue that also the draenei are
    de-centered in the world politics, but mainly the Alliance stands united, as you
    pointed out.

    My New Expansion's wish (for the one that comes after Pandaria. This one is set in
    stone) is that they will attempt a bold move. Deconstruct the Alliance/Horde
    paradigm making the Undead a third faction. Recover past enemies as allies, and
    break with the cycle of rightfulness-power-corruption. Fix the unsocial nature of
    your game.