Day Seventeen: Favourite Place in the World (of Warcraft)

This post is part of a series "20 Days of... WoW Blogging Challenge", a blogging challenge suggested by Saga at Spellbound. She proposes twenty questions to be answered in twenty days. Originally I had hoped to do one post per day, now I just hope I get them all done in the same month.

"I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want to own." - Andy Warhol
When I first stepped foot into Azeroth as a new Dwarf, I found myself in wide-eyed awe at the world that I found myself in, and wandered the snowy wastes of Dun Morogh for hours soaking in all the details. I was amazed at how large the world felt, and how it had a definite sense of place, as if it actually existed in reality. Since then I have become quite attached to the little virtual world we inhabit, even as it grows smaller from familiarity.

Before the great Shattering it would have been very easy for me to tell you where my favourite places in the game world were. They were the places that felt unaffected by all the chaos in the world; little pockets of normalcy in a world gone completely bonkers. They were the places where you could see a little snippet of normal life in Azeroth - where the biggest problems that the people have are other people's prize-winning pigs, finishing the construction of a bridge, or the gigantic yeti living in the hills above your house and eating your livestock. You know, everyday-type stuff.

Dun Morogh, Loch Modan, Southshore in Hillsbrad and Redridge Mountains were some of my favourite spots because of this.

Loch Modan in particular felt like a vacation spot: beautiful scenery, a big lake with lovely water-skiing potential, and not much to worry about other than the odd trogg or ogre who kept to themselves for the most part. I always thought of it as the place that my character would retire to when he was done adventuring. The most alarming thing (aside from the smell of the ogres) about Loch Modan were the five or six Dark Iron dwarves trying to blow up the dam. But I always got the feeling that they weren't all that serious about it, and that they were just doing a half-assed job to keep their supervisor off their backs while they chilled by the lake and smoked the Dark Iron equivalent of a doobie.

For Sale: Vacation home with scenic view of mud, murlocs and giant, rotting fish carcasses.
Dirt cheap or best offer.
And then Deathwing came and blew it up for them. Goodbye serene, beautiful lake, hello slimy mud pit.

Aside from the occasional attack by ninjasunstoppable undead killing machines, or an army of frothing-at-the-mouth Horde players bent on massacring every Alliance lowbie in the area, Southshore always felt very peaceful; a piece of untainted Lordaeron that escaped the ravages of the plague and remained a reminder of that once great kingdom. It was so peaceful that in order for the quest givers there to have anything for the players to do, they had to send them to an entirely different zone.

Mourn for Southshore. Plague slime stains are impossible to get out of your tattered, zombie rags.
That is, until the Forsaken needed a new toxic waste dump. I mourn for the people of Southshore. People like Bartolo Ginsetti and his weird fascination with ravaging the local Yeti population to make sure that everybody was dressed as badly as he was.

On the other hand, as favourite places go, I also enjoy the forlorn, tragic lands of Lordaeron that were devastated by the Scourge. The Plaguelands had an emotional hold on my heart-strings since the day that I first read about them; the stories that were told there were extremely touching. Mournful tales of loss, heroism, betrayal and death were everywhere. Places like Andorhal - destroyed by it's own food supply, Caer Darrow betrayed, corrupted and ultimately destroyed by the very people charged with protecting it, and Darrowshire and the battle that condemned its defenders and its daughters to a mournful unlife. Sad, wonderful tales that tell of the suffering of the people of that dead land.

What the hell? Where are my zombies? I come to the Plaguelands for
hordes of ravenous zombies, not corn!
Of course, with the death of Arthas and the fall of the Scourge, the cleansing of these zones is well underway. There is still a lot of wonderful stories here, but the Plaguelands have lost the tragic air that made them so compelling. There is something deeply unsatisfying in cleansing a farmer's field of angry mutant pumpkins when compared to a horde of mindless, pitchfork-wielding zombies.

Duskwood is another great, atmospheric zone that ranks high in my list of favourite places. I have always loved the undead as a villain, and Duskwood was packed to the gills with them. Before Blizzard reworked the zone you would spend hours upon hours in the Raven Hill Cemetery surrounded by ghouls and skeletons of all sorts. Duskwood had terrors aplenty for the level-appropriate soul: Stitches periodically wandered the road, ruthlessly slaughtering anyone not paying attention; Mor'Ladim wandered the cemetery and would dispense his elite, undead fury on anyone who got within his incredibly large aggro radius; and the rare spawn Commander Felstrom who annoyingly resurrected himself just when you thought that he was dead.

But at least there's always Raven Hill Cemetery. Fewer ghouls than before,
but always good value for your undead hunting pleasure.
With the rejiggering of the questing experience, however, the zone has lost a lot of its dark charm. While the Embalmer storyline still exists, it ends in an phased battle against Stitches in the burning town of Darkshire, removing the ever-present danger of randomly meeting an elite abomination ten levels above you. The sheer number of undead haunting the graveyard, and the time spent questing there has been drastically cut. It's still one of my favourite places, and the stories being told are still great and the flow of questing is smooth and flawless, but the atmosphere that they create is not as captivating as it once was.

In the end, with everything taken into consideration, the place that holds the most emotional attachment to me is Dun Morogh. The snow-covered peaks of the Dwarven starting area are gorgeous, quaint, homey and have a majesty to them is only rivaled by the much more greatly detailed Howling Fjord. I'm sure that my fondness for this zone has to do with it being the first zone I set eyes on, and walking its roads evokes the memories of those first innocent days of playing the game.

The great Dwarven city of Ironforge.
I always imagined that my dwarf priest Fannon lives there in a little home tucked away high on the shoulders of the mountain that Ironforge is carved into. In the only piece of Warcraft fiction I've ever done, I wrote a little bit about that in a post from last month.

It's odd which zones will capture your imagination. In thinking about this article I'm trying to come up with the specific things about Dun Morogh and Ironforge that appeal to me so much to make them my favourite zone in the game, and I can't really think of anything. I can't point to specific quests that are charming, although I always found Brewnal Village fascinating: a whole town that is so drunk on Barleybrew that they can't even be bothered to construct any buildings, but are content to live in tents as long as there is beer to be had.

The feel of this zone is, to me at least, undefinable. It's home, and that's what matters.




  1. Great post. I haven't been to Duskwood since Cataclysm and I'm sorry to hear about the nerf to Stitches. The fact that you could run into him at any time was terrifying - and that made the whole zone terrifying. I remember questing there and and constantly being on the lookout for him. It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time I was in the zone and really made the zone feel a bit frightening. If he is now just phased content I can't imagine the zone having the same feeling.

  2. I agree completely.

    It's funny how attached to Stitches I got. When I was first levelling through Duskwood I got killed repeatedly by him, and avoiding him through the wolf-infested forests along the road was a pain in the neck. You would think that I would have resented him, but the impromptu groups that would quickly form to fight him were so much fun. The questline was great, and was the first time that you saw that your actions had consequences.

    There was always a sense of danger in that zone. The wandering elites and the level discrepancy between the mobs (the spiders along the river and the undead in the graveyard, for instance) meant that you always had to be careful where you were to avoid getting attacked by something you couldn't handle. That feeling of danger just isn't there any more, which is sad.

  3. Stumbled upon these by chance this morning.

    Just wanted to say "Hi!"