Thursday, May 20, 2010

Episode Three: The Dawning Realization

Zangarmarsh. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

Well, actually, yeah, sure, you can find more wretched hives just about anywhere. There's the Grim Guzzler in Blackrock Depths, for one. Yep, that would definitely be a more wretched hive, and as far as scum and villainy go, it's definitely in the top 10, if you know what I mean. So, what I mean when I say that Zangarmarsh is a WH of SV, is that it's freaking wet. I thought the Swamp of Sorrows was annoying, but that place has got nothin' on Zangarmarsh. Here, even the plants want to pick you up, pop your top off and suck you down like a frosty cold one on a hot day.

So... I wander in to the Cenarion Refuge, just across the border from the Hellfire Peninsula, and what do I find smack dab in the middle of this damp, dark, incredibly hostile wilderness? Of course! The Cenarion Circle!

Takes me about three shakes of a ram's tail to locate the right people to talk to. You get to know their look in this heroing business. I'll admit, though, that figurin' out whos got the jobs for ya when yer dealing with the Cenarions is a bit easier than that, even. Just wander around until you find the nastiest big bruiser around, sidle up to him, and before you know it, it's balance this, nature that, and would ye be interested in slaughterin' some of the wee beasties around here, lass?

They definitely have some strange ideas about natural selection, I'll tell you that. I think they're trying to breed animals with a natural resistance to Hemet Nessingwary.

Anyways, that's one down. Halfway there. Next thing you do, when you find yerself in the company of the Cenarions, is look for someone that seems to be little shifty, a little embarrassed, per'haps a bit fidgety. Oh, and generally giggly, too, for some reason. Strike up a conversation with them, and soon you'll be wanderin' away, with a promise that they'll pay ya good cold cash for bringin' 'em back some random weeds or a pile o' live poison toads or... you get the idea. If you're having trouble findin' the blighter, just ask the brusiers ta point ya at the guy who has "the good stuff" - that always seems ta work as well.

Anyways, about 5 minutes after hittin' this sorry excuse for a town - I mean, what kind o' place allows trees to just walk around? It ain't natural! - I'm gettin' ready to wade out into the great beyond and inflict mayhem on the flora and fauna of th' region. All in the name of the greater good, y'know. Only one of the bruisers catches me on the way out, and points to a gargoyle standing on top of the only decent bit o' architectural engineering in the place.

It takes me a few seconds, but I get the gist of it - said gargoyle, isn't, and a wee bit of a climb later, I'm talkin' to the head of the local muscle, a brusin' large specimen of a Tauren name o' Hamoot. Which just goes ta show you how strange those Horde folks are, naming a fine specimen of steak on the hoof like 'im after a pig. "Diff'r'nt strokes for diff'r'nt folks", as Uncle Flintlocke used ta say. O' course, he was talking about how to knock someone's head off from 200 yards with a chuck-shot, so I'm actually generalizin' a bit here.

Now, things get a little weird. I say hello, and kind o' shift in to idle, waitin' to get through the whole "balance o' nature" speech again, and it takes me a few seconds to realize I'm noddin' in the wrong palce, because that's not what he's sayin'.

"Hold up! Did you just say what I thought you said there, Hammy?" He grimaced a little at the nickname, but I figure, he's hirin' me, I get to set tha terms. He was a little annoyed at it at first, 'till I dropped Staggy's name a few times. Seems bein' on a nickname basis with tha head o' the Cenarions is just what ya need to get away with this sorta thing. Of course, I neglect to mention that the last time I saw Staggy he threw me out of his tower, but tha's just details.

"Indeed," he growled. "While our primary mission is to exploit the natural resources of this... why are you grinning?"

"Oh, nae reason," I said. "It's just refreshin' to meet a man... cow... man-cow who likes ta get right to the point. Exploit away, I always say!"

He grumbled, and continued. "As I was saying... we have run into difficulties. We are not the only ones interested in the natural treasures of the marshland. There are organized gangs of Naga who have pushed their way into our territory, which is causing difficulties for our operations. Staghelm is... quite insistent that we resolve these issues as quickly as possible..." He pauses for a second, then leans over ta look me close in the eye. "... and as finally as possible, if you understand what I'm saying."

And thats where the light went on for me. It all clicked. Staghelm's organization, and the grip it seemed to have on Darnassus. How the Circle was open ta all, but the Night Elves always seemed to be the toshes on top. The inevitable presence of heavy muscle with any Cenarion group. The concern for the continued flow of morrowgrain and silithyst dust. The constant searching for new territories, new flora, new compounds.

And now... an all-out war with the Naga. They were once Elves, ya' know. Common knowledge, that. So, really, what we have here is an inter-familial competition for the exploitation of the medicinal output of one partic'lar region. That was the final clue. Circle o' druids? Ha! Not bloody likely, friend.

"The Cenarion Circle is an organized crime syndicate!" I blurted out. And then froze.

Hamoot straightened up, and narrowed his eyes as he looked at me. "Do say, dwarf," he growled. Ever hear a cow growl? It's a disturbin' sound, it is. Enough to put you off yer ale, almost. "What if it is? What do you intend to do about it, then?" he asked, his hand strayin' to tha mace hangin' at his side.

"Do? What am I goin' ta do?" I was literally hoppin' mad at this point. As I've said, Mama dinnae raise no foolish girls. "Ya blooddy bug blighter, I'll show ya what I'm goin' ta do!" With that, I gave him the cold, hard stare of a professional killer. An' it was a good one, too. Learned it at me Grammy's knees when I was just a wee bugger.

"I'm raisin' me rates, buddy boy. No more non-profit discount for ye, ya blighters!"

"Now... where were these here Naga ya wanted offed, tall, dark and steakly?"


  1. I kind of like Zangarmarsh. Even went to the trouble of raising rep with the mushroom men to Exalted. Of course being an herbalist helped in this respect since it provided extra motivation to slaughter untold hundreds of bog/fungal giants. Ended up getting the achievement for doing all(*) the quests in the zone.
    The instances aren't bad either.

    (*) - actually for doing finishing X number where X is sort of like the total number in the zone, but sometimes not really.

  2. I'd never really thought about it... but at this point, out of 4 characters I've leveled, the only quest achievement that they've all managed to pick up is "Mysteries of the Marsh". Just based on that, I'll nominate this as one of the best-designed zones in Outland for questing.

  3. It certainly has a good mix of easy and medium difficulty quests. If you like long-and-epic quests then it's somewhat lacking - I don't think there's anything in it that compares to (for example) the old world questline to redeem Tirion Fordring's son. But those aren't the sorts of quests that someone would generally complete on four different characters, anyway.
    Nagrand was the other Outland area that I really liked doing quests in, but then I was leveling as Horde and there is a pretty cool set of quests for the Mag'har orcs that I doubt Alliance can do. So I don't know that it's quite as entertaining for Alliance toons.

  4. As soon as I was done with Zangarmarsh, I headed straight for Nagrand. As a miner/skinner, it's a wonderful place to gather mats, and the zone itself is just plain stinking beautiful. When I got a flying mount on my first character, I headed straight for Nagrand, just so I could swoop around and check out the floating mountains. It's still a favorite area of mine.

    Alliance side, there are a couple of quest chains that are moderately interesting (though this time, I may just leave Corky lost). I think that the Alliance quests dealing with the Kurenai are probably not as interesting as the Mag'har quests... at least, I can't recall anything along those lines that were particularly more interesting than the "kill ogres... ok, kill *more* ogres..." standard quests.