Greetings once again from the guy who has way too much time on his hands!
Earlier this year, I was in a bit of a creative rut. To work my way out of it, I decided to expand some ideas I've been keeping in the back of my mind while playing World of Warcraft. What would happen if Stratholme were purified? What if there was actually something interesting north of Heathglen?
The result were two fairly popular threads; Reinvention North Lordaeron and Reinvention: Strahtholme. I received a lot of great compliments (and tried to thank everyone by name) and am exceptionally happy with the feedback. I honestly thought people would see the walls of text, post "TL;DR" and the threads would slip into oblivion. I've never been happier to be wrong.
Shortly after, I was contacted by another MMO Champion reader, Wragnarok and we started bouncing ideas off each other for an even more ambitious Reinvention thread, taking a much larger chunk of the game world and designing an entirely new zone with it's own quest hubs, storyline, dungeons and even a raid. We worked at it quite a bit, but as time went on we actually started working on far more interesting projects (at least to us) and our interest in the Reinvention concept slipped away.
I've decided to post what work we had for everyone to see since the chances of us actually completing it are ziltch, especially with Cataclysm right around the corner. Thus, I give you...
Multi-Level Questing Zone
The contents of this post are incomplete work. Large portions are incomplete and lots of details are only roughed in. The readability of the post suffers somewhat because of this. If you have any specific questions, I will attempt to answer them to the best of my knowledge. Lots of details were only roughly plotted out during conversations and may not appear in this entry. Thank you.
Angor Coast is home to an extensive Titan city, Uldannon, that is rumored to house a powerful artifact called The Planar Scale. This object, said to possess the ability to control the balance of the various elemental forces of Azeroth, is coveted by many a dangerous force, but by none so fiercely as the rebellious Thunderfin Naga or the Fissureclaw Brood, one of the many Black Dragon groups loyal to the recently returned Neltharion. As they battle tirelessly over control of this history-entrenched region, a relentless whirlwind radiates out from the Halls of Antipode, the great Titan-wrought fortress complex at the heart of the region.
As a newly arrived adventurer in Angor Coast, players will begin in their faction's local base of operations. For Alliance players, this is the town of Ashfield, a farming commune founded by veterans of the last several years' conflicts. For Horde players this will be The Last Camp, comprised exclusively of shamed or shameful soldiers. Players will begin by ensuring the safety of their respective settlements, then move on to investigate the the goings on of the region: Alliance will face attacks from Titan constructs while the Horde will have their first brush with the Thunderfin naga early, until both begin to investigate the Titan structures in their regions. Upon learning some of the truths behind the legends of this region, players will be flung deep into the latest in a series of conflicts that stretches back beyond recorded history.
This area is the result of speculative development of a previously unused area just west of Burning Steppes. This area is readily accessible to the Alliance via Redridge and the Horde via Swamp of Sorrows, both from the South, meaning it is easy to design mid-level content for both in the same lower half of the map which then progresses to higher levels as one heads north and begins tracing the curve of the land. As you will notice, the shape of the landscape has been altered some, though not at the expense of pre-existing zones. This is in keeping with Blizzard's philosophy of opening up more coastlines during Cataclysm.
This was the first real map that I developed. As you can see, the zone would have tucked itself between Badlands, the Redridge Mountains and Burning Steppes
This is what the finalized zone would have looked like. The few locations that we decided on names for are labeled.
One of the central themes of Angor Coast is that there's a massive cyclonic storm overhead, the result of the balance between the elemental planes being disrupted. Here's a scaled down map to show where the storm is basically at work;
You can see a LOT of information that we had roughly fleshed out in this map. Each colored area represents a sub-zone, with the general objective and level ranges listed. You can get a rough idea for how players would have advanced through the zone.
NOTE: A lot of the locations and details marked up on this map are NOT EXPLAINED BELOW. If you're curious, please ask and I'll try to elaborate on our plans.
Of Swords and Plowshares: Ashfield
Alliance Questing Subzone (38-44)
From the other-worldly battlefields of Outland, worn and wounded soldiers of the Alliance returned to Azeroth, seeking a long-deserved peace. Granted shares of land for their service, these distinguished veterans have settled in the fertile hills of Angor Coast. Naming their settlement Ashfield, after the rich volcanic soils of the region, these retired soldiers have adapted to a life of peace and prosperity, far removed from the turmoil of war. Or so they thought...
There are rumors that the Naga clan to the south is more organized than they appear, Orcs are gathering from the Swamp of Sorrows, and even nightmarish Black Dragons are gathering just across the bay. Though Governor ??? has written off these concerns as the anxieties of war-scarred veterans, the tension is palpable as old soldiers repair the arms they'd stashed away, hoping to never use again.
Before the human settlement was established, Ashfield was a gentle grassland rolling down towards the sea. The past volcanic activity in the area provides amazingly rich soil, and the sea breeze keeps the climate temperate and fair. The Titan structures in the area are large, circular structures sunken into the landscape. Those that remain active give off an otherworldly blue glow and hum gently with an unknown energy. Nothing prevents their exploration, though some guess that hidden doors remain undiscovered and that the ring-like structures all are connected somehow.
The State of Ashfield was established shortly before the start of the Northrend Campaign, to supply the forward positions with valuable foodstuffs. It falls under the jurisdiction of the Kingdom of Stormwind, but is an autonomous region with its own governor. The seat of power is the Town of Ashfield, located at the center of the state, where an inn, church, and local businesses sprang up to serve the populace. In order to keep the hardened soldiers of the Outland Campaign from wallowing within the cities and stirring up trouble, King Wrynn established Ashfield and awarded the soldiers land for their service. As such, the citizens of the area are experienced warriors with a supply of high quality weapons, making the local militia one of the best in the land.
Ashfield is the main Alliance settlement in Angor Coast, situated across the mountains from both Burning Steppes and the Redridge Mountains. New roads have been laid to connect Lakeshire and a rebuilt Morgan's Vigil to this area, and a new flight path (connected to Lakeshire, Thorium Point, and Nethergarde Keep) has been established. The area on which Ashfield is established was previously untextured mountains.
Points of Interest:
Alliance players will generally enter from Redridge Mountains, by way of a new road out of Lakeshire. This path takes them straight into the Town of Ashfield, the local population center and the main alliance quest hub in the region. There, players will be given various assignments, from Governor ??? and Mayor ???, as well as a few townsfolk in the area with their own requests. The main questline in the area has players investigating the recently reactivated Titan Sentries, mechanical watchers who eliminate any organic life attempting to breach The Uldannon Wall to the north. This questline also has players checking out the Titan Rings, discovering their purpose and exploring the passages beneath them.
On the east side of the subzone is ??? Beach. Eroded by the turbulent bay, this lowland isn't very important to the Alliance, but is rather a major Horde route. Overlooking the beach is the ??? Farm, recently abandoned by its owners who claim their land is haunted. The truth, however, is that an underground passage connects their barn to the nearby horde camp, and the orc soldiers use it to make their way past the alliance guards and onto the beach. This is how the Horde reaches the Uldannon Wall.
The main story arc has players helping a Dwarf researcher uncover the secrets of the Titan ring structures as well as the Uldannon Wall to the north. There are several other quests, of course, that add flavor to the region; these focus on helping the former soldiers adapt to a life of peace and the local government establish itself in the post-cataclysm chaos. To save space only the main quest is presented below, but please keep in mind that much more is going on in this zone. We may add these quests in later, if there's time (or demand!)
Ashfield has three phases that progress while the player is underground. Notes are included with for each phase; what it looks like, how it changes, and why.
PHASE 1: Idyllic
- Horde Kidnappers (Southern farms and mountains, track down and kill off horde NPCs to rescue dwarf investigator).
- Titan Ring 1 (Active ring, east of town. Sealed off.)
- Titan Ring 2 + Underground (inactive ring north of town. Able to enter sealed areas and underground passages. Paths to southern inactive ring)
PHASE 2: Inferno
- Sentries 1 (Several farms are on fire, take out several sentries)
- Sentries 2 (More sentries to defeat, 100% drop rate of quest item that starts next quest)
- Shut down Rings (Underground passage to active ring, shuts off Sentries.)
- Save Ashfield (Put out flames, similar to event?)
PHASE 3: Recovery
- Blamed (Residents blame you for attack, gather supplies to rebuild?)
- Recover Relic (Shell-shocked soldier needs family heirloom item to comfort him)
- Dwarf Escort? (Dwarf needs help shutting down sentries in new area under active ring.)
- Blameless (Dwarf discovers you were not at fault... who is?)
- Wall Pre-quest (Need to build story so that Titan Fortress is a vital position. Maybe all the activity has started sentries?)
Phase I is idyllic, a quiet countryside scene far removed from the turmoil the rest of the world is experiencing. That will change soon enough, however. In this phase, the storm is far off, the weather is sunny and cheerful, and the only threats are a few coyotes.
Originally Posted by ??? VillagerOriginally Posted by Dr. VinrocPhase II:Originally Posted by Dr. Vinroc
Phase II turns Ashfield upside-down; several farms and fields are on fire, a storm is beginning to rage overhead, and there are wandering Titan Sentries all over the landscape. This phase is short, having only a few quests, but intended to be fairly intense.
Originally Posted by Dr. VinrocOriginally Posted by Dr. VinrocThis quest uses the same mechanics as the Hallow's End event where the inns are on fire. The process, of course, is complicated by several Titan Sentries, including one of the big Mark IIs that patrols around the village square.Originally Posted by Mayor ???
Phase III is the aftermath; the fields are smoldering, the town of Ashfield is smoking and burned up in quite a few places, and everyone is pretty much filthy and tired. The quests here all involve the recovery of the town and discovering why things happened the way they did. A lot of people are angry at the player and Dr. Vinroc during this phase, and a lot of the dialogue reflects these emotions. Essentially, the hero sent by the king himself has stumbled and nearly destroyed the town for it. This is in direct contrast to the Horde quest line in this zone.
Unfinished Zone Descriptions:Originally Posted by ??? Villager
The remaining info is just a rough outline of each subzone. I will try to explain each as much as I can.
(In)Glorious Warriors of the Horde: Gamon's Camp (38-44)
Our plan here was simple; Garrosh essentially took all of the undesirables and untrustworthy citizens of Orgrimmar and sent them off on pointless tasks so they wouldn't be in the way of his new order. Gamon, everyone's favorite punching bag, was to be relocated from Orgrimmar to a tiny camp north of Swamp of Sorrows (marked by a red X on the map above). Whereas the Alliance storyline was all about a Hero of the Alliance, sent by the king himself, screwing up royally, the Horde quest had players unintentionally pissing Garrosh off and being banished to Gamon's little camp. Their questline would have gone the opposite way; instead of wrecking things, they'd actually succeed in forwarding the causes of the horde (drawing the further ire of Garrosh as well).
The Only Way Is Through: The Uldannon Wall (42-45)
Both Horde and Alliance quests eventually lead to a phased event where players enter the "Uldannon Wall", a massive barrier along the north border of Ashfield. This wall would have had a faction-specific hero helping the player break into the Titan City, defeating an especially powerful boss along the way.
Scouring for Saboteurs: The Receptor Complex (42-46)
The general idea behind the city of Uldannon is that it maintains balance between the different elemental planes, keeping the elementals from intruding into Azeroth. With the Cataclysm, this balance is thrown off, which explains why there are all of these new elemental rifts across the landscape. The city itself is one giant machine that keeps the elemental planes balanced against each other and thus sealed away. The major quest lines involve who controls this enormous device and how they can use it to their own benefit.
One large element in the Receptor Complex are the "Storm Spires". They're essentially towers that draw energy from the atmosphere. Players would teleport into them with specific goals in mind. Here's a quick concept mockup of what they would have looked like;
And yes, Uldannon would have been an "Asian" version of Titan constructs. It's actually kind of funny because this was planned before Uldum was revealed as an "Egyptian" version of Titan themes.
The Storm Insurgency: The Flooded Conduit (45-48)
If you look at the map above, you'll see that the Titan complex is defined by lots of canals and waterways. Because of the massive storm, a large part of the city is now flooded over. This area would have had players dealing with rusted sentries, a few naga camps, and a variety of flooded chambers and structures.
Those Who Split the Earth: Rainshroud Cape (46-50)
This is listed on the map above as "Southern Dragons" and "Northern Dragons". The area is a muddy Black Dragon and Dragonmaw Orc-infested camp. It's noteworthy for there being large skirmishes all along the coast as the Thunderfin Naga try to drive the Black Dragonkin out of the region. Lots of sabotage and scouting missions here.
Within These Walls: Halls of Antipode (48-52)
The Halls of Antipode was a subzone that represented the 'outside' areas of the Harmonic Array 5-man dungeon designed for level 50-54 characters. The goal of this subzone was to establish the player's mission inside the actual Array and set up dungeon quests.
To Weave the Storm: Harmonic Array (5-Man, 50-54)
The idea behind this dungeon was to try and wrest control away from the Thunderfin Naga who had infiltrated it in an attempt to claim it not for Azshara (as most naga would) but for Neptulon, their new master. The final boss was to be an especially impressive Naga named Lady Medusa. Both the previous zone and this dungeon would have been designed to motivate players out of the zone, as the next subzone and two instances were designed for players to come back to later at higher levels.
Down Shadowed Paths: Tidal Labyrinth (78-81)
This was a high level subzone that players gain access to much later in the game, when they've reached a more Cataclysm-appropriate level. The Tidal Labyrinth was an under-sea network of pipes, tubes, shafts and machinery that converted tidal energy into useable power for the Planar Scale. It was designed to be an attunement-zone that gets players ready and informed for the 5-man and the Raid.
Heavens Below: Equalizer Coil (5-Man, 80-84)
The high-level 5-man instance, the Coil was going to be somewhat like Deepholm is now; a large underground cavern with lots of power-generating structures and plane-balancing devices clinging to stalagtites and the roof of a massive underground sea cave. Not many details on this, honestly, except that the major enemies shift from the Naga (who were beaten back by the player's efforts in the earlier level instances/zones) to the Dragonkin.
Defending the Scale: Sanctum Planarum (10-Man, 85)
This was going to be a large 'event raid'. The leader of the Dragonkin was going to 'fuse' with the titan energies and become a sort of "Ethereal Dragon" composed of energy. Ironically, we had the idea for the dragon to be formed out of stars, sort of like the Pay Mount that came out much much later. Our idea was cooler though. The energy-dragon would have jumped from machinery to machinery, with each device being a boss fight. It's kind of hard to describe, but imagine this giant nebulous dragon leaping into ancient titan robotics and throwing everything this giant world-balancing mega-city has at the players. We didn't flesh the fights out much, sadly, but this was one of our favorite concepts.
Well, that's it. There's a lot of ideas floating around for this project that just didn't get typed up, so if you have anything you're curious about feel free to ask I'm fairly certain Wragnarok will have some input of his own to add as well.
It's not much, but I feel like the people who really enjoyed my previous threads really deserved to see what was coming down the pike before it was abandoned. I hope you enjoyed what we were able to put together, thank you for reading.