Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Introductions and explanations

Greetings everyone, and welcome to Glimpses of Azeroth.

This journal has been a long time coming, and I hope it won't disappoint those who have waited for it, or anyone who may have stumbled here. Since this is the first post, I figure that it would be best to explain the basic concepts of this journal before we dive in.

What is the purpose of this blog?

This is my ongoing chronicle of my journeys through the game World of Warcraft in search of the rare and reclusive creatures called rare mobs, or rarespawns. You're going to hear these words a lot. I will also post anything else I feel appropriate to the general "mood" of weird and unusual facts about World of Warcraft. It will not become a vehicle for information about me, or my guild, or pvp, or anything of the sort.

Who are you?

I'm a lifelong gamer who's always been fascinated by fantasy, science fiction and games based on those concepts. I also love trivia and obscure facts. I play World of Warcraft with my friends mostly because it is an easy way to play games together when you're spread out over several countries. I'm using the nickname Dragonshade because it's a fairly neutral one that I've used in the past.

What is a "rare mob or rarespawn"?

To quote wowwiki:

A rare mob or monster is on a different timer than normal mobs in the area or sometimes only spawns X out of every Y instances you enter.

Normal mobs in World of Warcraft spawn on relatively short timers, and you can always expect at least some of the type to be found in their respective areas. Often, the spawn timer for normal mobs is short, sometimes so short than a new monster may attack you as you are recovering from the last fight. Not so with rare mombs.

Rarespawns respawn significantly slower than their normal counterparts, sometimes not until several days after being killed last. Some respawn faster, and there is some confusion about how the rarespawn timers work, but in general it can be safely said that rare mobs are just that - rare. Also, to distinguish them further from their normal ilk, rarespawns have a unique name, shared with no other mob in the area. Sometimes this is a name, like "Hematos", sometimes it is merely a description (like "Murderous Blisterpaw") but it always shows that the rarespawn is an individual, not one of the crowd.

Furthermore, rarespawns have a unique frame around their portraits. For the normal, non-elite rarespawns this is a coiled silver dragon.

While some people still call normal rarespawns "silver elites" (which is incorrect), some mobs are rare and elite. This means that in addition to being rarely encountered, they are generally also much tougher than the normal mobs around them (unless they are already in a dungeon, of course). Rare elite mobs have a unique portrait frame in the shape of a coiled silver dragon with a large wing, a silver version of the normal gold dragon seen around non-rare elite portraits.

I should add at this point that several areas in the old world used to have elite mobs outside instances. An example of this is the ogre area in Loch Modan. Most of these non-instance elites have been reduced to normal mobs today, but some rare mobs found in those areas are still elites. A "fun" surprise if you're not prepared to deal with something that hits a lot harder than the usual creatures.

Now, there are other beasts in World of Warcraft which spawn infrequently (such as the old world raid bosses), but they fall in another category, and have been extensively covered in other sources. There are also some odd examples of creatures bearing the silver dragon of a rarespawn which are not rare. In fact, several creatures inside old world dungeons do and yet can be encountered every time that dungeon is launched. Often this is due to the fact that the creature in question was at one point in time rare, but has since been changed. However, they still retain the portrait frame. Some of these mobs may be covered further down the line.

So what's the point of rarespawns? Why do they exist?

I can't really answer that question, as I'm neither a developer for WoW, nor do I know anyone who is. I can make a few educated guesses, though.

First off, virtually all rare mobs drop loot which is better than "normal" mobs of the zone. Most old world rarespawns drop guaranteed uncommon (or "green" quality) loot. This means that rarespawns are good sources of getting drops that you can use or sell, which is always welcome. Some rare mobs actually drop loot which is unique to them (this applies to all Outlands and Northrend rares, as well as several old world ones), offering players a unique piece of gear. The loot from a rarespawn is also usually bind on equip, meaning it can be sold or given away. This is probably the primary reason rarespawns exist, as a fun extra source of new items.

Of course, some rarespawns drop thing things that people almost go crazy over...

Second, rare mobs may be a part of something special. They may sometimes drop a quest-starting item , or they may be tameable as hunter pets .

Third, and related to the other two, they offer a bit of "fun". Something special that you don't see every day, which may give a little bit of extra lore or just a fun experience. Some rarespawns even have lore of their own! Seeing an unfamiliar mob all of a sudden can open your eyes and make you realize how many little things you may miss in this game, even after years of playing.

Why make a blog devoted to these guys?

Well, mostly because I think it's fun.

Hey, what other reason do I need? It all started when I was leveling an alt (after years of just playing a solitary character) and started to run into rare mobs everywhere in the old world. Eventually I started thinking a bit more about these creatures. How many are there? What do they drop? Is there any story behind them? I decided to find out, and started taking screenshots of each one I found. This "photo safari" grew more and more elaborate, and several people suggested I make a journal out of it. As there is actually relatively little information about rarespawns online, despite the vast amount of pages devoted to World of Warcraft, I thought it was a fun idea.

So you're hunting rarespawns?

When I have nothing better to do, yes.

How does this work?

Well, basically I decided early on that my hunter would be a good candidate to seek out all these critters. The most essential skill is the various tracking abilities which let me see creatures nearby as "dots" on the minimap.

I should also point out that I use no form of third-party aid to find and photograph rare mobs. There are several addons which can track down rarespawns by targeting macros and immediately alert you when it can find one (from far beyond visual range), but I decided that this would make it less fun and less challenging.

However I -do- use information on which rares exist and in which general area they can be found. For this I use the aforementioned wowwiki and my other WoW information site of choice, wowhead. While there are other options, such as Thottbot and Allakhazam, I do not feel either of these appeal to me as much, while I do cross-consult sometimes when information is conflicting.

Oh, and one more thing.

I generally do not kill a rarespawn when I see it. Not unless there is some overwhelming need for me to do so. Many of the screenshots that are already out there are photos of the mob in combat, or dead. I want to take the screenshots of the mob alive and well, in its natural habitat. I guess it stems from my love of wildlife photography, but there's something strangely appealing to me taking a great "photo" of a rare mob in one of the lush environments that World of Warcraft has to offer.

Besides, I reason that in general there will probably be someone else who could benefit from killing or taming the mob more than I do. Maybe there's someone out there who has never seen a rarespawn before, who will come upon this exact one that I'm photoing and realize the World of Warcraft is bigger than they thought...

How will this blog be presented?

I debated for quite some time how to post to this journal. What order should I present the mobs, should it be told as an in-universe travelogue, or what? In the end I have decided that rather than chain myself down to a format that may cause me problems in the future, I will present this blog in different ways depending what I feel like. It may come to contain fictionalized entries, entries focusing on the real-world aspects of the mobs, entries from different zones and different level ranges, and so forth. I will of course try to tag each entry properly for ease of finding.

So basically, the only constant is that this blog will feature some pictures and some text about a rarespawn (or anything else that may feel right for it).

And that's about it for my introductory post. I may be adding more general information entries down the line if there's a good reason for it. So sit tight and keep watching, the first rarespawn entry is coming up very soon.



The Chilly Hollow Needlepoint Adventure said...

What fun! I am enjoying reading your beastiary, Dragonshade. Thanks for doing this, thanks a lot!

Enigma2Me said...

You probably don't really care 8 years after the fact, but this bestiary is probably one of the most useful things for a Vanilla Private server player like me. I tend to enjoy finding a rare spawn somewhere in the world in hopes of a good drop, but that doesn't mean i always get it because they tend to spawn in a lot of bizarre locations. Trying to search them up is always a challenge because while some tend to be accurate, others tend to be hard to find or are based on Cataclysm era rare encounters and thus aren't very accurate anymore.

Finding this blog was unintended, but an absolute godsend for me in this case, as well as being interesting to see your thoughts and headlore/canon on these creatures.

So thanks again.