Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Buzz About Buzzards: Spiteflayer

When we last visited the Blasted Lands we saw one of that shattered region's sentient inhabitants, the ogre Mojo the Twisted. This time we're taking a look at a type of creature that can make a living in a devastated area like this... a carrion bird.

This entry is about Spiteflayer.

What is Spiteflayer, and where can I find it?

Spiteflayer is a rare mob carrion bird found in the Blasted Lands in the Eastern Kingdoms.

Spiteflayer looks exactly like the other carrion birds in the zone, making it hard to spot without nameplates on. Spiteflayer patrols from the edge of the Dark Portal crater up to the Serpent's Coil, flying rather slowly and meandering a bit as it goes. I have never seen it elsewhere, always in the eastern area north of the Portal outskirts.

Dangerous pets

Not that much to say specifically about Spiteflayer. It's a large carrion bird, much like the Bonepickers and Black Slayers found in the same area. It unusually possesses a curse (The somewhat common mob ability Curse of Blood which increases physical damage) but is not much of a threat, nor does it have a unique model or drops.

Once upon a time, carrion birds were considered very efficient PvP pets due to the fact that they came with an ability to interrupt enemy spellcasting by knocking them down. This was considered good enough that you saw many many hunters with carrion birds in the Battlegrounds. Eventually this was considered too good, and was removed. Today carrion birds instead come with the ability Demoralizing Screech. As usual, Petopia has more information on carrion birds as hunter pets.

Living off death

As I mentioned, I think it makes perfect sense for the Blasted Lands to be filled with various carrion birds, including Spiteflayer. Since the area underwent a rather quick ecological disaster with the opening of the Dark Portal, most of the local fauna and flora died out, rapidly or slowly. The remaining creatures even now struggle for survival against eachother and the many deadly threats introduced to the region, and corpses are common.

The carrion bird model in World of Warcraft has the telltale naked head and neck of a scavenger, which in the real world is useful for birds which stick their heads into carcasses (feathers only get in the way). Therefore these creatures must be the vultures and buzzards of Azeroth, picking clean the kills made by more dangerous predators. To have gained a name, Spiteflayer must have made an especial nuisance of itself, and whoever named the other birds in the Blasted Lands seemed to have a healthy respect or fear for these animals.

As ecologically sound as Spiteflayer and its brethren are, I have to say that I just don't like this bird model, built on the same basic frame that also created various birds of prey. It doesn't animate very well (the flight animation looks especially wonky) and is rather low-detail and dull. Some recent improvements have created birds like the Dragonbone Condors in Northrend, which look much better. Mayhap this means the older birds can also get a bit of attention and a sprucing up.

Until next time, wash that carrion before you eat it.


Raiders from Desolace: Stonearm

In this installment of Glimpses of Azeroth we return to the Barrens. Many races have been locked in conflict over this zone for centuries, inluding the tauren, the quillboar and the centaurs. With the aid of the arriving orcs and trolls of the Horde, the tauren managed to establish a tenuous control over large areas of Kalimdor once held by their ancestral enemies. But many still linger.

This entry is about Stonearm.

Raiders across the plains

Stonearm is a rare mob centaur found in the Barrens on Kalimdor.

Stonearm is usually found around the Kolkar encampments north of Crossroads. He will be standing around idle, sometimes inside a tent, and uses the more elaborate armored centaur model.

Stonearm does not, in fact, have a stone arm. Nor does he really have any other distinguishing features. He has no special abilities, and does not really pose a threat even to the unwary. However, he should not under any circumstance be confused with the other rarespawn centaur in the Barrens, Rocklance. I will cover Rocklance in another entry, but suffice to say that he's a wandering rare elite who can be quite a pain for someone low-level.

What's Stonearm's story?

Since he's found in the Kolkar encampments, usually quite close to Barak Kodobane, it's probably a safe bet that Stonearm is a somewhat renowned centaur subchief or famous champion, sent from Desolace to spread havoc.

The Kolkar are one of the centaur clans which originated from an accursed offspring of the elemental Princess Theradras and the errant son of Cenarius called Zaetar (Although there are some conflicting stories regarding this, as with many things in WoW lore). They have been the enemies of the tauren for untold generations and now harbor enormous hatred for losing much of their old territories. Thus the centaur push into Horde territories like Mulgore, the Barrens and Durotar.

Stonearm does have one thing that makes him special: a unique drop. He drops an odd-looking cloak simply called the Buckskin Cape, a decent agility cloak which can be sold or given away if unwanted. Perhaps the cape is made from one of Stonearm's personal kills, some prey he was particularily proud of, like one of the great bucks of Stonetalon.

In conclusion, Stonearm is not all that interesting. He's a centaur with a name and a drop, and not terribly much more.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Corruption spreads: Dessecus

In the aftermath of Archimonde's demonic invasion of Azeroth, many regions were left badly scarred and tainted by the Legion's twisted presence. One such region is Felwood. Once part of the vast, ancient forest of Ashenvale covering the slopes of Mount Hyjal, site of the world tree Nordrassil, the forest that is today Felwood was tainted by the Legion and even today remains a stronghold for demonic forces, such as the secretive Shadow Council. Virtually every form of life in Felwood today is tainted.

Today's entry is about Dessecus.

Corrupted nature

Dessecus is a rare elite elemental found inside Inrontree Cavern in northern Felwood, in Kalimdor.

Dessecus can, as far as I have been able to determine, always be found in the exact same spot inside the cave. If you enter and quickly drop down, there is a large circular chamber on the lower level rather close to the entrance. Dessecus can be found here, attended by a number of regular Warpwood elementals.

Visually, Dessecus is not very different from the other elementals in the area. However, he hits very hard in comparison and has a lot of health. In addition he can summon a small thunderstorm on top of attackers making them take even more damage while fighting. This makes him a dangerous enemy. If you plan to attack him, make absolutely sure you clean out the lesser elementals first, as you will want room to maneuver if needed. He has no unique drops, providing only the standard uncommon quality drop.

The model that nature elementals use is usually referred to as the "Bog beast". This model is very frequently used in classic World of Warcraft, and you can find it from starter zones all the way up to the upper 50's areas of Azeroth. After Classic, the model has received somewhat less exposure. The basic movement pattern and physique for bog beasts is shared with a couple of other creature models, such as dire trolls and wights. Tellingly, you can recognize their idle animation where they swing around, dangling their arms.

When seen up close, and especially when increased in size, the bog beast model looks rather dated. It's somewhat blocky and undetailed, and the odd coloration chosen for the Felwood elementals does not help. It's one of those models that holds a lot of nostalgia for me (having leveled through Teldrassil many times as a newbie) but could do with an overhaul.

What we know

In the Warcraft universe, bog beasts and the many other creatures using the same model (such as Timberlings) are classified as elementals. However, in the Warcraft RPG they are described as ambulatory plants. The main difference would be that these creatures are not summoned from any of the elemental planes of the WoW cosmology, but rather "native" creatures.

The elementals of Felwood were not immune to the corruption spread by the demons and their minions, and have been infected by fel energies. Even the fire elementals show this corruption, and the plant beasts are no exception. They are hostile and dangerous, and the Cenarion Circle consider them beyond saving. Their sap is suspected to hold clues to helping other forms of life in the twisted forest, though, and since Deseccus will drop a piece of Blood Amber for the quest, he is probably just as badly corrupted as the rest.

Dessecus' power probably means it is an elder among the elementals, a creature that had lived in this forest for a long time before the demonic taint spread. This would probably also explain why it has powers beyond those of the other creatures, like summoning lightning. Like the treants nearby in Irontree Woods, these bog beasts were probably once peaceful creatures, and their loss to fel taint is truly a sad thing.

Next time you're questing in Felwood, take a moment to consider how destructive the Legion truly is, if their mere presence can cause deep scars in an area and cause the creatures there to become dangerous beasts that have to be put down. Regardless of the corruption, Irontree Woods is a wonderfully designed area and well worth visiting if you have the time.

Who knows? Maybe in Cataclysm the efforts of the Cenarion druids have shown results.

Until next time.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Murlocs in the jungle: Gluggle

As indicated by my earlier post, murlocs can be found virtually everywhere. However, they do seem to favor warm or temperate waters. For this reason it should come as no surprise that the tropical zone of Stranglethorn has several areas infested with the fish-men.

This entry is about Gluggle.

Who is Gluggle and where can I find him?

Gluggle is a rare mob murloc found in Stranglethorn Vale.

Gluggle can be found in a very specific area in Stranglethorn, the Kal'ai ruins. The purpose of this ancient troll ruin has long since been forgotten, and the remains now form only a few unidentifiable stone structures surrounding a small lake. Gluggle can be found here, and will patrol around the lake, slowly walking around. He will occasionally head off a bit and walk down the small path leading up to the area, but will not go far and turns around to walk slowly back.

Danger of the fish-men

There are two tribes of murloc that make their home in the teeming jungle of Stranglethorn: The saltscale live in the submerged Vile Reef off the western coastline, and the Murkgill live around the small lake in the Kal'ai ruins.

Gluggle can be spotted amongst the other murlocs due to the odd dagger he carries and his slow meandering patrol route. The Murkgill murlocs use both the white and grey murloc skins, so you may have to look closer to spot Gluggle at first.

Murlocs are generally dependent on larger bodies of water for their life cycle, which is likely why the Murkgill do not stray too far from the small lake. As for why they have come to Stranglethorn in the first place, who knows?

Gluggle strikes back

If engaged in battle, Gluggle is not much tougher than the average murloc in the area. He possesses a weak AoE attack, but should only be a problem if there are too many other murlocs drawn in by the fight. He has no unique drops, not even the nice-looking dagger her carries.

Murloc oracles and shamen often use the white murloc skin, and since Gluggle shares this with the local Murkgill Oracles, I think it is safe to guess that he is the tribal chieftain or head oracle of his tribe.

I think it's fun to note that the various murloc skins are tagged as "sahuagin" in the WoW files. The sauhagin are vicious fishmen from the Dungeons & Dragons rpg, and do have some similarities with murlocs. This, just like basilisks having many legs, are likely small touches showing us how big fans of various older games the Blizzard developers are.

Until next time.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

An announcement and some mixed things.

Hey everyone.

I'm taking the time off to give you what amounts to a public service announcement concering the blog.

As of this week I am (as I indicated earlier) dropping down to a post every other day, rather than every day. The frenetic pace I maintained in the first three weeks of the blog were primarily there to establish some content for new readers read, and to iron out the look and feel of the posts. Now that I feel that has been accomplished, I am going back to a more sedate posting schedule.

And yes, I realize the irony of making this announcement a day late. I would rather make a post a day late than not make a post at all, and as real life shifts and changes I may shift the posting around as well. I hope you understand.

Second, all posts should now be tagged with the appropriate creature type for each rarespawn. This felt like a natural thing and I'm thankful I got it as a reader suggestion!

Finally, my old post about Boulderheart now has several new pictures of much better quality. When I made that post I was puzzled that I could only find one set of screenshots when I was fairly convinced I had more. I only found the "missing" ones recently, and decided to remove the substandard pictures in favor of more colorful ones with more varied poses. I hope you enjoy!

Please keep the comments and feedback coming and I'll continue to try to upgrade the blog as much as I can.

Thanks for reading.


Hunters of the sands: Vile Sting

Life thrives in even the most hostile corners of Azeroth and Outland. Even in the fel-polluted springs of Shadowmoon valley there's life. Even on the undead-infested Icecrown Glacier, creatures eke out a meagre existence. And even in the arid, sun-baked deserts of Kalimdor, you can find creatures of all kinds.

This entry is about Vile Sting.

Who is Vile Sting and where can I find it?

Vile Sting is a rare elite mob scorpid found in the Shimmering Flats, at the easternmost end of Thousand Needles on Kalimdor.

Vile Sting can be located close to the western edge of the Shimmering Flats, just south of the tiny Horde encampment Ironstone Camp. There is a ruined wagon here surrounded by other scorpids, and Vile Sting can usually be found wandering around this area. He walks around a bit, but I have never seen him travel too far south (close to the silithid area) or too far north.

Scorpid life

Vile Sting is a scorpid, creatures based on real-world scorpions. All the way back in Warcraft: Orcs and Humans summoners could conjure up giant scorpions to fight for them. Today scorpions are small and inoffensive critters, while the large-size beasts are now called scorpids.

Like real-world scorpions, scorpids are arachnidans, arthropods related to spiders. They have eight limbs, with the front two developed into powerful pincers to hold down prey. They have a segmented body and a tail ending in a venomous stinger used to kill prey. Unlike real-world scorpions, scorpids possess two large upward-jutting tusk-like projections of unknown function. Real-world scorpions possess hairs on their bodies which are used to sense vibrations, giving them a form of vibration sense to detect prey movement. I like to think that scorpids also possess these hairs.

Many scorpids in World of Warcraft are ambush predators, dashing out from hiding to clasp prey and sting it to death. Some possess the ability to burrow down into the ground to lay in wait. Scorpids are not restricted to any one continent in Azeroth, and also occur in Outland (however they do not appear naturally in Northrend, probably due to the low temperatures).

Scorpids are most common in arid, dry areas like Thousand Needles, Tanaris, the Blasted Lands or Durotar, and come in a variety of colors. Most are somewhat subdued, but there are garish examples too.

Taming scorpids

Vile Sting can pose something of a threat for passing adventurers in the Flats due to the fact it is an elite and thus hits quite a bit harder and has more health than the other scorpids. Players looking for scorpid venom for the quest from the Mirage Raceway should take special care (Although Vile Sting seems to drop this quest item, it may not be worth the effort). It possesses the standard scorpid venom which inflicts extra damage, and can hit quite hard.

Like most scorpids, Vile Sting is tameable by a brave hunter. At level 35 (albeit elite), Vile Sting is by far the earliest that one can tame a pale-colored scorpid. While this skin is far from unique (in fact, most scorpids in Silithus share it), it is a nice color compared to the "dirty" looks of many other scorpids. For more information on scorpids as pets, consult Petopia as usual.

As Vile Sting does not have any significant drops, and no lore to speak of, I theorize that it is merely the largest, toughest and oldest scorpid to inhabit the Flats, a solitary hunter that can fight off even the largest beast. The pale carapace may be a mutation, but seems well adapted for the beast to conceal itself in the almost white sand of the Flats. Possibly the lesser scorpids found nearby are offspring of the creature.

Until next time, may your scorpid remain docile.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ice and magic: Azurous

The blue dragonflight of the dragon aspect Malygos has had a troubled history on the world of Azeroth. Mad with grief over the bloody slaughter of his brood by Deathwing and by the reckless use of arcane magic of mortal spellcasters, Malygos declared war on all other magic-users, striking at the city of Dalaran and even at the other dragonflights.

However, the so-called "Nexus War" is not the first time the adventurers of Azeroth have come into conflict with blue dragons. In Winterspring is a blue dragon stronghold, and one of the powerful protectors of that stronghold is Azurous, today's rarespawn.

Tracking a dragon

Azurous is a rare elite dragon found in Winterspring, on Kalimdor.

Azurous can be found close to the blue dragon sanctuary of Mazthoril, located slightly to the southwest of the neutral city of Everlook. Azurous follows a long, winding path around Mazthoril, crossing the road that goes between Everlook and Frostwhisper Gorge and going back south into the hills just above Lake Kel'Theril. He then continues south for a long way, eventually turning east in the hills south of Mazthoril, crossing the road again and returning north through the outskirts of the Ice Thistle Hills.

When he passes the Ice Thistle Hills area, Azurous is within visual distance of Everlook, an uncommon thing for a rarespawn.

Dragon hunting

As noted, Wrath of the Lich King was not the first time the blue flight have been cast as hostile towards the other races.

Azurous is no exception. Ás an elite, and one who wanders across a significant part of southern Winterspring, Azurous can be quite a hazard for an unprepared adventurer. Not only does his elite status grant him a lot more health and melee damage than an average mob his level, he also possesses a strong icy breath weapon which he will freely use.

Furthermore, Azurous has various immunities which may mess up attempts to slay him. He is immune to stuns and fears, and is either highly resistant or plain immune to arcane magic. Beware if you travel through this part of Winterspring. Sadly, Azurous has no unique loot to show off for the effort of slaying him, only yielding the standard world drops.

The dragons of Winterspring

Trying to enter Mazthoril has always been met with the stiffest resistance, and all the dragonkin in Winterspring except matron Haleh have always been hostile. Azurous would appear to be the outermost line of defense of the blue dragon den, since his patrol takes him furthest from the main cave system.

Technically, Azurous is a drake, much younger than a fully grown dragon but much more powerful than a whelp. Three other blue drakes, Spellmaw, Manaclaw and Scryer guard the inner areas of Mazthoril, protecting their matron from invaders (even if some of those invaders come in peace). Presumably, Azurous and the other three are among Haleh's oldest children, and thus entrusted with the defense of the lair.

I would guess that Azurous is the youngest, most impulsive of the drakes of Mazthoril, and that his restless and brash nature drives him to travel the surrounding lands as an aggressive scout. Occasionally he looks down with pity upon the mortal town of Everlook (barely more than a collection of anthills to the drake) before moving on in his vigil.

The big picture

Up until the release of Wrath of the Lich King, Mazthoril was the only blue dragon strongold in World of Warcraft. As such it provided an early exposure to the blue flight and their xenophic nature in guarding their magical secrets. The coloration of the blue flight is aesthetically pleasing and fits in with the blues and whites that dominate Winterspring, making them fit in with the icy landscape. While Mazthoril and its denizens have not reappered so far, maybe one day they will return and play another part in the unfolding saga of Azeroth.

Azurous is a gorgeous creature. I am quite fond of the drake model, which is now even available as a riding mount for players. It has a good design and details, down to the mace-like tail, and looks quite excellent in the colors of the blue flight.

Therefore, to round out this entry out I am just going to present one of my favorite screenshots I got of Azurous and let that speak for itself.

Until next time.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ogres are everywhere: Mojo the Twisted

You may have noted that sometimes I mention that a particular type of creature occurs mostly on one of the continents in the World of Warcraft setting (Kalimdor, Eastern Kingdoms, Northrend or Outland), but some species are much more widespread. One such exceptionally far-flung type of creature is the ogre.

Today's entry is Mojo the Twisted.

Who is Mojo the Twisted and where can I find him?

Mojo is a rare mob ogre (not to be confused with the frog of the same name) that can be found in the Blasted Lands in the Eastern Kingdoms.

Mojo can be found in or around Dreadmaul Hold, a small ogre base (seemingly taken over from the Horde judging by the tattered banners) in the north-western corner of the zone. Mojo can spawn in three locations that I have seen: Inside the hold itself, patrolling around the outer ring of the building, behind the hold by the rear wall, or up on top of the burned watchtower in front of the hold.

A short story of ogres

The reason for the enormous geographical spread of ogres is because they are intelligent creatures who once came to Azeroth while allied with the orcish Horde. According to legend, ogres arose on Draenor (the planet which later became Outland) as lesser scions of the monstrous immortal gronn. The ogres have a long history of being enslaved by smarter and more powerful beings, and many still are to this day. After the First War, Second and Third war various groups of ogres had deserted from the Horde or found new masters, and spread across Azeroth. Today they are a common sight everywhere but Northrend.

Under the influence of arcane or demonic magic, ogres may mutate and grow two heads instead of one. While two-headed ogres often have problems with the personalities of their heads not getting along, a few have exceptional spellcasting potential and become the much-feared ogre mages. The combination of magical ability and the ability to rip up a small tree is nothing to be scoffed at. Some two-headed ogres may also be warlocks.

Mojo appears to be an ogre warlock, as he uses the standard shadowbolt as his main attack, as well as a shadowbolt volley which strikes many enemies at once. Despite these powers he is not a very dangerous enemy since he can easily separated from the rest of the ogres in the hold.

What's his story?

The Dreadmaul ogres are somewhat special from most other ogre clans in Azeroth in that they directly serve a demon. Having long since defected from the Horde, the Dreadmaul leader Grol pledged his allegiance to the ambitious Dreadlord Razelikh. With demonic power coursing through his veins, Grol quickly enslaved other beings to do his biddings and made his ogres a dangerous force in the Blasted Lands.

Most likely Mojo acts as a warlock and general magical advisor for Grol, presumably being fanatically loyal to the clan's demonic master. Since he always spawns close to Grol, Mojo may be his most trusted magical advisor.

Anything else?

Mojo does not have blue skin or the two-part name (one for each head) common to many ogre mages and warlocks. If killed he yields only a generic uncommon item, and he has no other special traits. All in all a rather average rare mob ogre, who is made cooler by having one of the more interesting and original clans in the old world.

Until next time!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Stuck inside of Xavian with the night elf blues again: Prince Raze

I mentioned in a few previous posts that the Highborne were very fond of lofty-sounding titles, displaying their self-proclaimed superiority. I also mentioned how the present-day races that originated from the Highborne are fond of this tradition.

The satyrs are no exception.

This post is about Prince Raze.

Who is Prince Raze and where can I find him?

Prince Raze is a rare mob satyr found in Xavian, a satyr encampment in eastern Ashenvale forest, on Kalimdor. Xavian is very close to Forest Song, an alliance flightpoint and base. Just ride west from the flightmaster and you will find yourself in the middle of the satyr area.

Prince Raze can be found in several spots inside Xavian. I have only seen him standing idle (watching him for extended periods of time), and he does not seem to patrol at all, which makes finding him easier. He can also rather easily be spotted due to his pink/purple coloration, quite different from the other satyr in the area.

Rare and dangerous

Unlike many rares that I have featured so far, Prince Raze possesses some dangerous abilities far beyond those of the surrounding mobs. If you adventure in this area and are far below his level (32) be very careful.

In addition to a fireball and a fire nova, he also knows a skill which may spell doom for a low-level character, a spell called Charged Arcane Bolt which hits for several hundred arcane damage. This spell luckily has a cast time and can be prevented. To add to this, Raze has the same ability as the other Xavian satyrs, a one-shot self-heal which will restore him to full health. This spell can not be countered, so you will effectively have to fight him twice.

Add to this the many potential adds in the area and you have a somewhat tricky situation if you are unlucky.

Demons by choice

The satyrs chose their own fate when they followed their master Xavius into the worship of Sargeras, well aware of the destructiveness of the Legion.

From a real-world perspective, satyrs were introduced as a non-playable enemy race in Warcraft III, having their own buildings in the form of corrupted night elf structures. From the beginning, the night elves have tried to eradicate their foul kin and never quite succeeded. Satyr enclaves exist all over Kalimdor and beyond, as many satyrs entered the service of Illidan Stormrage and departed with him to Outland.

That a satyr in Ashenvale would be brazen enough to proclaim himself "prince" of anything is only another indication of the self-absorbed and vain nature of these fiends. Most likely Raze is or at least considers himself to be the leader and lord of the Xavian satyrs, possibly being the planner behind their attacks on other creatures and settlements. Alas for Raze, he provides no unique drops to befit his status (but he does drop satyr horns for the vengeful dryad questline for alliance).

All in all, a fun little discovery in a familiar area. Even villains need leaders, and maybe even princes.

Until next time, never chose to follow your liege into worship of a fallen titan of enormous power who is the leader of a multi-dimensional army of ravaging demons.