Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Demon Dogs: Bayne

Today we present another rarespawn that is the only one of its type, and another starter zone mob. These are often the first rarespawns a character will ever encounter, and thus many will have fond (or not-so-fond) memories of them.

This post is about Bayne.

What is Bayne, and where can I find it?

Bayne is a rare mob darkhound found in Tirisfal Glades in the Eastern Kingdoms.

Now, according to wowhead, Bayne can be found in several locations in northern Tirisfal. However, personally I have never found it anywhere but around Stillwater Pond, just west of Brill. Stillwater Pond is a tiny body of water, and if Bayne is here it will be easy to spot. Bayne does not wander much, just doing a small patrol route around its spawn point. Whether Bayne can actually spawn in these other registered locations I do not know.

Combat and lore

Bayne is a demon, and thus cannot be tamed as a hunter pet. Interestingly, NPC's in the old world frequently have creatures with this model as pets, be they demons or beasts. However none are tameable by players. Bayne has a very fast respawn time, meaning that it is almost always found up.

As a level 10 mob right outside a starter village, Bayne can be a bit of a pain if your character is too low. It places a bleed effect on you and has an ability that slows movement speed. For any well-prepared character it should not pose much of a problem. Bayne has no unique drops, but since it is guaranteed to drop a useful item, starter area rares are frequently sought out by beginners.

Darkhounds appeared on Azeroth as a result of the demonic invasion during the Third War. Presumably they were either brought there by the Legion, or simply slipped along through the dimensional portals. Possibly a combination of these, since the creatures can be found in very diverse places.

The canine appearance and simple predator behavior seems to indicate that darkhounds are predators of low intelligence in their native environment. Lore from the roleplaying game claims that warlocks can tame them to keep as pets, though this is naturally not possible in World of Warcraft. Still, the creatures are not organized or powerful enough to pose more than a nuisance, unlike most demonic invaders. Bayne is presumably the biggest and strongest darkhound in Tirisfal, keeping the largest territory and downing the biggest prey.

And that's about it, really. Bayne is a fairly average rare (though I do love the name), and there's not much to say about it.

Until next time, don't let the demon pups bite.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ghoul lords: Lord Malathrom

Normally ghouls are among the lowest of the undead, basic troops fit only to savage enemies with their filthy claws. Normally rarespawns have one thing that distinguishes them from the large hordes of "vanilla" mobs in the game. Some rarespawns, however, have a bit better luck and are "blessed" with unique abilities, unique drops and a cool-sounding name to boot. That such a mob would happen to be a ghoul only adds to the unique situation.

This post is about Lord Malathrom.

Finding Lord Malathrom

Lord Malathrom is a rare mob ghoul found in Duskwood in the Eastern Kingdoms.

Lord Malathrom can be found in the Dawning Woods cemetery in the north-western corner of Duskwood. He will always be found underground, in the extensive catacombs honeycombing the area. He can be /target through the ground if you do not have a track undead ability, which may make the search easier. Lord Malathrom does not wander, just meanders around in the spot he spawns. However, the widespread nature of the catacombs mean that you may find yourself searching for him in vain until you are familiar with the layout.

Fighting Lord Malathrom

The Dawning Woods catacombs are filled with ghouls of different types (likely all serving the corrupt sorcerer Morbent Fel), but Lord Malathrom is quite special if engaged in combat.

Malathrom melees for average damage, and casts a Shadow Word: Pain spell. However, his special ability is to summon two small minions with the models of bog beasts. These two minions are named Sloth and Sludge, and will apply a debuff that slows the opponent down. Despite their plant elemental looks, they are classified as undead (something very rare for the elemental models and shared only with creatures like Loatheb). If the battle continues, Malathrom will keep summoning new minions with no limit. While they can be quickly killed, doing so regularily is important so as to avoid being swamped in adds.

(I apologize for not having any pictures of Malathrom's adds here. All screenshots I tried to take of them were very messy, since he only summons them in combat. Consult wowwiki for more information)

Looting Lord Malathrom

When defeated, Malathrom has two unique drops. As usual, he will only drop one of them per kill (at least as far as I know). One drop is a rather terrible caster cloak, but the other is quite interesting. It is an item called the Spiked Collar, a consumable which summons a felhunter to protect you for one hour! This creature has no special abilities and is constantly aggressive towards mobs, so take great care. However, for roleplaying it can be a fun effect, and well worth finding the item for (Keep in mind the item is Unique, and you can thus only carry one at a time).

Now, there is some evidence in the lore for "ghoul lords", more powerful ghouls which may have spellcasting ability and retain shreds of their former personality. One such creature was Horgus the Ravager, a very powerful ghoul which served the Lich King in his annihilation of the small town of Darrowshire. I do not know if Malathrom became a "lord" after his death, or if he was a nobleman interred in the cemetery before being raised as a ghoul. I would tend to believe the latter is true, and that the hapless Malathrom was a Darkshire resident before his death, possibly even a warlock or shadow priest given his drops and abilities. It seems likely that he serves Morbent Fel as a lieutenant of the undead of the area now, regardless.

With a combination of interesting abilities and a very cool drop, Malathrom is a very neat low-level rare. He is well worth seeking out!

Until next time, don't let the Scourge control you.


Friday, June 25, 2010

The fastest cat: Broken Tooth

As I have mentioned in the past, prior to patch 2.0.1, pets would come with wildly different stats and abilities when tamed, even within the same "family" of pets. One turtle was not like every other turtle. After the normalization, some rare spawns which previously had high desireable abilities became "normal" pets, and thus lost their special value. This post is about one such rarespawn.

This post, thusly, concerns Broken Tooth.

Who is Broken Tooth and where can I find it?

Broken Tooth is a rare mob cat found in the Badlands in Eastern Kingdoms.

Broken Tooth has a fairly quick respawn rate (some hours) and can be found in three general locations: Either near the narrow entry to the Badlands near Uldaman (in this spot the cat has a high risk of being killed), on the eastern side of the large mountain formation directly north of Dustwind Gulch (northwest of the Uldaman side entrance) and near Angor Fortress.

I very often find Broken Tooth near Angor, walking around the small ridge southwest of the fortress entrance. In appearance, Broken Tooth is a cougar or mountain lion, and is very easy to spot because all the other cats in the locations where it can spawn are in constant stealth. If you see a large mountain lion which isn't stealthed, it will be Broken Tooth.

Combat and former fame

Lore-wise, there isn't much to say about Broken Tooth. It is a rather large cat, and probably a dominant older specimen. I cannot be sure of its gender. While many female cats prowl the area, it struck me that Broken Tooth may be a solitary male as well. Neither does Broken Tooth have any combat abilities or drops to distinguish it. The cougar skin is one of the more common cat skins used in World of Warcraft, found in several zones between level 3 and 37 (with an oddball level 70 appearance in Zul'Aman).

Broken Tooth has a kind of small claim to fame despite this, though. Prior to the normalization of pets, Broken Tooth had the fastest attack speed possible in a pet. Whereas pets today have attack speed 2.0, Broken Tooth had speed 1.0, attacking very rapidly. This was enough reason to seek it out and tame it, because those very rapid hits would cause great trouble for enemy players in PvP.

Sadly, the glory days of Broken Tooth are long past. If tamed today, it has no special abilities. Today it is mostly just a cat with a better drop table than the rest. However, finding out facts like this are one of the reasons rarespawns intrigue me. Expect more obscure pet information in the future!

Until next time

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The crystal-eaters: Scale Belly

Basilisks are quite common fictional creatures due to their real-world myths being rather wide-spread. Even kids today may know what a basilisk is if they're fans of Harry Potter (although that version was more serpentine in shape). The idea of a creature with a gaze so powerful and malevolent that it would instantly slay someone or even turn them to stone is an ancient concept, closely associated with the belief that the "evil eye" could have great power in the world. In World of Warcraft, while most basilisks cannot turn a player to stone, they can certainly petrify hapless NPC's. And the basilisks of the Stranglethorne jungle are no exception.

This post is about Scale Belly.

Who is Scale Belly and where can I find it?

Scale Belly is a rare mob basilisk found inside the Crystalvein Mine in Stranglethorn Vale, in the Eastern Kingdoms.

Scale Belly is another stationary rare, and does not have any patrol path. Being sedentary it is rather easy to find if alive, and can be easily spotted from a distance. Whereas the common basilisks in and around the mine are green, Scale Belly is a bright orange specimen.

As mentioned in the introduction, basilisk areas in World of Warcraft often have objects resembling crystallized people and creatures in them, and as you can see by the screenshot from outside the cave where Scale Belly is, there are a few crystallized trolls and other hapless victims there. A very cool little feature, I think!

What is Scale Belly's story?

We don't know a lot about Scale Belly, not even the gender of it. It is one of the basilisks found all over the tropical area of Stranglethorn, presumably a large and powerful specimen. It could be an old male or female, and while basilisks do not appear to live in packs, an older specimen often carves out a large territory by rebuking younger and weaker creatures.

Basilisks are beasts, but cannot be tamed by hunters. Your only choice when encountering Scale Belly is to fight or avoid it. It is not a challenging fight by any stretch, as the only ability the creature has is a cone-shaped stun ability called "Crystal Flash". A few quests mention that the basilisks of Stranglethorn are fond of eating the magically charged crystals found in the zone, and derive powers from those (getting tougher scales and such). This would fit in nicely with the crystallization powers displayed.

Scale Belly has not one but two unique drops. The first are a pair of mail leggings with resistances built in. They are at least rather pretty. The other drop is a sword which has an (as far as I know) fully unique particle effect! Originally a plain weapon, the chromatic sword now lives up to its name with an aura composed of several swirling colors. While relatively useless, it is a very cool and unique-looking weapon, well worth hunting for if you like having the shiniest (literally) gear around!

The first time I "found" Scale Belly it looked like this. This has happened more times than you'd think, sometimes I've even run into the mob as it was being killed. Since there are a few quests in the mine area and several mineral nodes inside it, Scale Belly will often be slain casually by passing adventurers. Such is the fate of most rarespawns found in well-traveled areas of the game.

In closing, a plain rarespawn with a nice little lore area and a really great unique drop!

Until next time


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Druid lookalike kitty: Dishu

One cool twist to being a hunter in World of Warcraft is to try to find a tameable pet that looks like something else. Maybe like a famous quest mob, or a boss. Or maybe you'd like to have a pet that looks like a druid? Today's rarespawn can help you with that last alternative...

Today's rarespawn is Dishu.

Catching the cat

Dishu is a rare mob cat found in the Barrens, on Kalimdor.

Dishu may be a little tricky to find at first, but once you know where to look she should be easy to track down. Dishu will spawn lying down under one of the large trees in the northern Barrens. Starting at the Horde town of Crossroads, if you go straight north and check under every tree you will eventually find Dishu, if she is alive. Her respawn timer is fairly short, so with some luck you should be able to locate this nice-looking feline. She is always found together with regular lions, as far as I know, so looking for groups of cats is a good strategy.

As promised, Dishu has the exact same appearance as the travel form of a druid. She's spotted, and resembles a leopard more than the lions who inhabit the Barrens. Dishu is by far the lowest level mob with this appearance, the others all being found in the old world between roughly level 25 and 45.

Cat's tales

Since Dishu is so low level and found close to the Crossroads, she makes a good starting pet for a beginning Horde hunter. Cats make good pets, and having one which looks like a druid is only a bonus. While the cat and bear forms of druids have undergone some revision, the travel form remains the same as the skin of these cats. For more information on cats as pets, as usual, visit Petopia, your hunter resource.

For non-hunters, Dishu is little more than a curiosity. While she has no special drop, she does have an interesting defense mechanism. In combat, Dishu can summon a small group of cubs to her aid, which is often enough to be the end of a weakened low-level adventurer. Since she has these cubs with her, most people assume Dishu to be female. You may notice she's asleep in all the pictures. This is because one of my central ideas is not to hunt rarespawns, only photograph them. For that reason I hated to wake Dishu up, and let her snooze.

As for why Dishu is a spotted cat among a large number of lions? I have no idea. Maybe she's strayed too far from her natural habitat. Maybe she's been captured by some unscrupulous hunter and escaped. Maybe she's a rare color variation on the normal Barrens lions? I have no idea.

What I do know is that Dishu is a nice-looking kitty to take for a pet. With her druid looks and the fact that not many people use this variety of cat for a pet, she makes for a nice find!

Until next time, remember to pet your kitties.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Micro-lore: Varo'then's ghost

One of the coolest forms of rarespawn is the one connected to lore. These are the creatures you can find legends about, get unique items from and which tie in with the Warcraft Universe as a whole. Sometimes it is a big story, sometimes it's a small one. Sometimes it is a reference that you will not get until you look beyond the game itself. In this article, we explore the lore of such a rarespawn.

This post is about Varo'then's Ghost.

The basics

Varo'then's ghost is a rare mob ghost found in Azshara on Kalimdor.

This undead spirit is found around the Shadowsong Shrine in the very western-most part of Azshara. He can be found in a few different locations, sometimes up on the ruined temple on the small hill, sometimes down among the fallen masonry. The area is very easy to reach from either the horde or the alliance flight point, and once there Varo'then's Ghost can be recognized from a distance as the only blue/clear colored ghost among the many green ones. He patrols quite a distance, so some quick searching may be required.

In combat, Varo'then's Ghost is pitiful. He casts a feeble curse of weakness and simply wades in to attack, being easily dispatched by any class. He also provides no specific drop, nor does he have any quotes. Indeed, to find the truth about him we must turn to the world of books...

What's his story?

As many of you may be aware, Azshara was once a central area of Old Kalimdor, one of the prime seats of the Highborne kaldorei. Before the land was shattered by the Sundering, this was the site of many ancient cities and strongholds, which is why the land is now pocked by ruins and haunted by highborne spirits.

One of the most faithful servants of Queen Azshara, ruler of the Highborne, was none other than captain Varo'then. He had risen to power after the fall of Xavius to become captain of the royal guard and personal envoy of the queen. Together with Illidan Stormrage he participated in the mission to retrieve the legendary Demon Soul, returning it to Azshara.

In the final battles between the queen's forces and the kaldorei rebelling against her mad schemes, Varo'then stood by his queen, leading her elite forces. Loyal to the end, he perished in the battle, as did most of his soldiers. In truth, he secretly loved Azshara, and was willing to sacrifice anything for her, even his life. These events are chronicled in the War of the Ancients Trilogy by Richard A Knaak.

Despite the controversy surrounding Knaak's Warcraft fiction, quite a few of his creations have managed to enter World of Warcraft itself. Varo'then is one of them. Alas for the loyal captain, wheras his queen and his contemporary Illidan have gone on to become creatures of terrifying power in the game, Varo'then is almost nothing. Reduced to a ragged spirit, wandering the ruins of the world he knew, there is no solace for him for his betrayal. Not even in death.

With the Cataclysm coming to reshape the world once again, and Azshara being changed fundamentally, it seems that Varo'then may vanish from the game as well. He will leave behind little but a name, and a memory. Seek him out while you still can.

Until next time;

Screeching harpies: Sister Riven

Wer're back after a brief hiatus.

Stonetalon mountains are a zone in constant conflict. The night elves strive to preserve the natural habitats of the area, the horde seek to make a new settlement for themselves, the Venture Company seek to exploit the natural resources of the peaks as much as they can... and in the middle of all this, native creatures like harpies are a danger to everyone.

This post is about Sister Riven.

Who is Sister Riven and where can she be found?

Sister Riven is a rare elite harpy found in the Charred Vale in Stonetalon Mountains, on Kalimdor.

This harpy stands out among the rest of her kin due to her rich green plumage and large size. She can be found in any of the harpy colonies in the Charred Vale, and will fly around a small area. She is usually surrounded by large groups of regular harpies, so adventurers around her level should be very careful.

What's her story?

Unusually, Sister Riven fights almost entirely with spells. While harpies frequently know a magic trick or two, those that are content to stand back and pummel their enemies with magic are much fewer in number than those who desire to shred the flesh of the living with their talons.

Riven's element of choice is fire, and she has a fire shield, a fire area attack and a direct-damage fire spell to turn foes into ash. Engage her with caution, as she has quite a lot of health and as chasing her around may cause more harpies to attack. Sadly, she has no unique drops.

Her spellcasting ability may be the reason she has a name known by other races. She is special enough among her harpy sisters for her name to gain some degree of fame, or infamy. Possibly the title "sister" is a sign of respect among her peers as well. As with most the Stonetalon harpies, Riven is most likely one of the Bloodfury, an especially vicious harpy colony who refuse to let the night elves into the Charred Vale to attempt to save it from devastation.

Despite her murderous intent, Sister Riven is a lovely-looking rarespawn. The harpy model still looks nice (while of course it would look even better with a slight upgrade) and the green color is gorgeous, reminiscent of a tropical bird. A very nice rare to spot.

Until next time!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

50th rarespawn: Qirot

Somewhat amazingly, this is the fiftieth rarespawn I have covered in this blog. It feels like just yesterday that I started out gathering up rarespawn screenshots and assembling text snippets and fun facts. On a whole I rather like how the blog has turned out so far, and would love to hear more from you, the people reading it. What do you like and dislike? Any suggestions for the future?

With that being said, I figured the occasion called for a rarespawn that is interesting, and I have chosen one of the coolest-looking ones for this purpose.

This post is about Qirot.

Secrets of Feralas

Qirot is a rare mob silithid found in Feralas, on Kalimdor.

Qirot can be found inside the Writhing Deep, the silithid hive in southern Feralas. Qirot will usually be found rather stationary in one of the underground chambers of the hive (quite often in the vicinity of the cocoon containing the captive Raschal, the objective of an alliance quest. Qirot is a silithid wasp, and unfortunately an uncategorized creature. However, while Qirot is thus not trackable, it is remarkably striking and easy to recognize.

Qirot has a very nice white carapace with black markings, something quite unique among all the green silithid wasps in the same hive. There are not many white silithid wasps outside of raid instances, and seeing Qirot in the "wild" is quite a sight. The wasp model is really nicely designed, with clacking mandibles, legs, large wings and the stinger slung under the body.

The crawling threat

Feralas is one of the zones neighboring Silithus to which silithids have spread. While it is not the most northern location of a silithid nest (that would be the Field of Giants in the Barrens), it is still remarkably close to both alliance and horde settlements. The Zukk'ash silithid even seem to waylay the occasional traveler, and no doubt cause quite a problem for the local ogres, gnolls and yeti.

An interesting aspect of the silithid is that they are frequently described as "insects". This implies that they are similar to normal insects, but not many types of silithids have six limbs. In fact, most only have four. I suppose calling them "insects" is more in line of calling aliens "bugs" because of superficial resemblance. As noted, while many silithids are today classified as beasts (some even being tameable), the wasps are still usually unclassified and thus not tameable by hunters.

Ignoring classification, Qirot has a venomous stinger and will aggressively attack anyone entering the hive. It does not have any special drops, and is not much of a threat.

What's the story?

I would guess that Qirot was named by one of the nearby sentient races on the ground of its odd coloration. Weirdly colored animals have always been the focus of legends and stories, and doubtless a huge white wasp would impress even the hardened races of Azeroth.

For the most part, wasps seem to serve the role as soldiers and guards of the silithid hives. Perhaps Qirot is such a hive guard, patrolling the zukk'ashi tunnels in searh of intruders. I doubt that silithids have much in the way of personalities or a sense of identity, so Qirot probably only consider itself anything but a tiny cog in the enormous silithid hierarchy.

In conclusion, Qirot may not have a lot of identity, but it is a strikingly beautiful mob. I constantly feel sad that these creatures are not tameable (odd since some other wasps are). Qirot is well worth seeking out just for the sight.

And with that, onward towards the 100th rarespawn! Hope you enjoy the ride with me.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Related in name only: Gruff Swiftbite

Gnolls are based on hyenas, and like hyenas they are social and hunt in packs. Thus, when you find one gnoll you will find a large number of others. The gnoll camp in Elwynn forest thus contains a large number of the creatures, including their infamous leader and one other named gnoll. The other named gnoll is of course a rarespawn.

This post concerns Gruff Swiftbite.

Who is Gruff Swiftbite and where can I find him?

Gruff Swiftbite is a rare mob gnoll found in Elwynn Forest in the Eastern Kingdoms.

Gruff and his fellow gnolls are found in the westernmost edge of Elwynn Forest. The area is surrounded rivers to the west, south and east, and the road leading into Westfall runs directly to the north. Gruff can be found pacing around any of the small camps in the area, and is not easy to spot visually as he looks very similar to the normal gnolls.

Fighting Gruff

If engaged, Gruff will simply wade into melee, swinging wildly at the opposition. He is little more than a slightly buffed version of the regular gnolls around him. Of course, the surroundings are a reason to be cautious, because the many many gnolls around (many of which patrol themselves), not to mention Hogger himself, may be drawn into the combat, which may be rather unpleasant for a low-level adventurer.

While Gruff is not terribly hard to defeat, nor very visually distinctive, he does have a unique drop (of uncommon quality no less, unusual for a starter zone rare). This drop is his pants (no pun intended), the boarhide leggings. This makes perfect sense, as Elwynn is the home of swine of many kinds and I can easily imagine Gruff and his fellow gnolls heading just over the river to poach some boars. Heck, with a little imagination I can even believe the creature is wearing the leggings.

Gruff also drops another item which actually explains a lot about the gnoll presence in Elwynn forest. This is the Gold Pickup Schedule, a quest-starting item which can drop from several different gnolls here, but Gruff has a high droprate for it. This quest reveals that the gnolls are working for the Defias Brotherhood and the local overseer, Morgan. As I mentioned earlier, the invisible network of criminals and dangerous monsters that involves the Defias Brotherhood is the focus of several starter zones, and this is just a small part of it.

As a result, I'd like to think that Gruff is one of the leaders of the Elwynn gnolls, serving under Hogger to perform some of the more menial duties that the other gnoll thinks is beneath him. Or maybe Gruff is the clever one, and thus entrusted with such delicate matters more readily by their Defias overseers.

The most amusing thing about Gruff, however, is that he shares his name with another rarespawn, immensely removed. This other Gruff (no surname) is a dinosaur in far-away Un'goro crater. As a result of this, for a long time the WoW item database confused the two creatures, and the Boarhide Leggings dropped from both. Getting a green item suited for a level 8 must have been something of a surprise after downing a level 57 elite. Fortunately (or unfortunately if this amuses you), this bug was fixed in patch 3.1.

With a neat little role to fill in the large story of the Defias infiltration, and close proximity to one of the most feared named mobs in the game, Gruff Swiftbite has a place in lore and in the game, however humble. The fact that he also provides a quest, an interesting feature for any rarespawn, is an added bonus.

Until next time, don't try to solo Hogger.