Shamus Plays WoW #15: The Doom of Darkshire

By Shamus
on Jan 29, 2017
Filed under:
WoW

The town of Lakeshire. As I remember, a lot of quests involve swimming around in the stupid lake and clicking on shit.

The town of Lakeshire. As I remember, a lot of quests involve swimming around in the stupid lake and clicking on shit.

We’re in the town of Lakeshire in the Redridge mountains. Boss has skipped talking to the useless guards, lackeys, and officials around town and gone straight for the top. We’re going to talk to the magistrate and see what this town really needs.

The following text isn`t an exaggeration. There really is a line (that never moves) to speak to the magistrate, and the player just ignores them and talks to him directly.

The following text isn`t an exaggeration. There really is a line (that never moves) to speak to the magistrate, and the player just ignores them and talks to him directly.

There are a lot of people in line, waiting to see him and complain about the gnolls that are killing and pillaging their farms. This is not to imply that there is a single farm anywhere in the Redridge mountains. But wherever these idiots and their imaginary farms come from, they are pissed off and want to talk to Magistrate Solomon. The wait would take hours.

Norman solves this by just cutting in line and demanding to know what needs done.

Normally this name is associated with wisdom. Right now? Not so much.

Normally this name is associated with wisdom. Right now? Not so much.

Magistrate Solomon peers at us through his monocle, “More of our citizens go missing every day. We think the gnolls are responsible, but we have no idea where they are taking them! If you are to help us defeat the gnolls and find our people, you must be properly equipped. Unfortunately, we are all out of gnomecorders. Without a gnomecorder, there is no way for us to communicate with you when you are in the field.

Norman shrugs, “A gnomecorder is some sort of device for talking to people from far away, I take it?”

Actually, a gnomecorder is a two-way wireless video communications device. That never needs to be recharged. And can apparently survive being submerged by Murlocs for extended periods of time. It also dispenses coins when you complete quests.

It’s AMAZING what they can do with steam power these days.

Norman tries to get a grip on this idea, “So you want me to hike out and fight dozens of murlocs so that I can get some contraption for letting me talk to you remotely?”

“Yes! It’s VERY advanced.”

“But why would I need that, I’m right here? Just give me the quest.”

This is the first step in a long questline.

This is the first step in a long questline.

“That’s what I’m doing. Go get a gnomecorder!”

“But I don’t need a gnomecorder to get a quest.”

“Yes, you do. You need one so that I can talk to you in the field.”

“But I’m not IN the field.”

“You will be once you go out to get the gnomecorder!”

“I really can’t believe you’re the mayor,” Norman sighs. “Listen, I want you to concentrate. After I get this thingy, you’re going to give me another quest, right? You said something about gnolls? You want some dead, right?”

“Of course!” he says, “Wouldn’t be much point in sending you after a gnomecorder otherwise.”

“Here is what I want you to do… I want you to give me that quest before I go get the gnomecorder.”

“But…” the mayor looks down at the silent gnomecorder in his hand. “You won’t be able to hear me.”

“I think I see the problem, here. The problem is that you need to be kicked in the nuts.”

“I don’t undersOOFF!”

/emote commands can be really satisfying, even if the NPCs don`t react to them.

/emote commands can be really satisfying, even if the NPCs don`t react to them.

Norman and I withdraw from town at a sprint. He’s just assaulted the mayor, which may or may not be illegal and we don’t want to find out the hard way.

“Well,” Norman pants as we get to the edge of town. Nobody seems to be chasing us. “I guess we won’t be going back there anytime soon.”

“So is that it? We’re out of people to help now?” I ask hopefully.

“No, there’s still one place left to try.”

We head back to Stormwind where Norman does a little shopping. Not wanting to be recognized as the guy who assaulted the mayor of Redridge, he picks out a new outfit that will hopefully hide his face.

“How do I look?” he asks me.

I think this outfit looks pretty badass. It`s not easy to put together something coherent at these low levels.

I think this outfit looks pretty badass. It`s not easy to put together something coherent at these low levels.

“Truly, you are the belle of the ball. So where are we headed?”

“We’re headed to the last place left in the kingdom of Stormwind. The last bastion of human power in the Eastern Kingdoms. The last place anyone would go to look for someone suspected of assaulting the testicles of the mayor,” Norman says firmly. “We’re going to Darkshire.”

My favorite area of the game. Just seeing these screenshots makes me want to re-enlist for a few months of WoW.

My favorite area of the game. Just seeing these screenshots makes me want to re-enlist for a few months of WoW.

One of my favorite zones in the game, actually. It makes a nice contrast to the more storybook parts of the game. Elwynn Forest and Westfall are Dr. Seuss. Darkshire is Edgar Allen Poe. (While on opium.)

The following quest and NPC dialog is lifted right from the game. All I added was Norman’s response.

Norman looks around town for work. Most people don’t seem interested in talking to him. Considering how things have gone in the past, he avoids the city leaders and members of the watch.

This is bullshit. This guy doesn`t have any mist anywhere near the mantle.

This is bullshit. This guy doesn`t have any mist anywhere near the mantle.

We finally track down a fellow named Tobias Mistmantle, who needs help locating his brother. He pleads with us, “I’m here because I received a letter from my brother Stalvan, who I haven’t seen in years. On arriving here, I was told he was dead. The entire town refuses to offer any further explanation. Any mention of his name is met with terror and suspicion. As if I didn’t have enough of that myself! “

So we head to the Darkshire Town Hall, which is easy to find. We just head into the town square and look for the fanciest, most well-kept dilapidated shanty. Inside we find Clerk Daltry, and Norman asks about the missing man.

And then there`s THIS asshole.

And then there`s THIS asshole.

Clery Daltry seems nervous, “You want to know about Stalvan? You’re not the first, you know. We get outsiders coming through asking about him every so often. Always outsiders. Everyone who lives here knows better. You’re out of luck, anyway. I’m missing half the archives. Feral worgen broke into the town hall not a few nights ago and tore the place to shreds.”

“Well, sorry about your archives. Just give me the short version, then. What happened to this guy’s brother?”

“The documents you’ll want are probably strewn all across Brightwood Grove by now, deep in the woods to the west. Not worth it if you ask me.”

“Yeah. Probably not. But you said that ‘everyone here knows better’, which suggests that everyone here knows what happened to him. So what’s the story? Is he dead? Locked away? Ran off and got married to a gnoll? I’m not here to judge. In fact, I don’t even give a rat’s ass. Just give me something to tell his next-of-kin.”

“I’m sorry I can’t help you more.”

“You don’t understand,” Norman says in a near whisper. “I’m trying to help your town. All I need is a simple answer from you.”

A simple answer is not forthcoming. “Fine!” says Norman, “We’ll see about this!”

Most people underestimate just how much dogs are attracted to paperwork.

Most people underestimate just how much dogs are attracted to paperwork.

We go out to Brightwood Grove and Norman unleashes a fury on everything that moves. We begin killing worgen dog-men, and we don’t stop until we have a roaring bonfire of burning fur. Eventually Norman finds a slashed bundle of letters. He grabs them and drags them back to the Clerk.

We really need to stop calling this a ROLEPLAYING game. Unless you`ve specificlly designed your character to be an idiotic doormat, it is impossible to roleplay through this quest.

We really need to stop calling this a ROLEPLAYING game. Unless you`ve specificlly designed your character to be an idiotic doormat, it is impossible to roleplay through this quest.

“By the light… you actually went and got it? I’m shocked,” the clerk says. “I suppose I owe you thanks for returning it to the archives.”

“No, you don’t owe me thanks. You owe me an answer to the simple question I asked you before a dozen worgen gnawed on my new clothes. Where. Is. That. Guy’s. Brother. Question. Mark.”

“If you’re that serious about this, I’ll help you,” the man says nervously.

Norman looks at him wild-eyed, “You have no idea how serious I am about this. But I’ll tell you. I’ve killed hundreds of creatures in the last few weeks, trying to help the people of Stormwind. But they have thwarted me at every turn. But not this time. I’m going to find this guy, and I don’t care how much of a stupid unhelpful asshole you are, I’m going to get the answers I need. When I go home after all this, I want to be able to say that I managed to help at least one person.”

“There’s only a few places that those horrible Nightbane beasts gather when they’re not prowling the forest. One of them’s the Rotting Orchard to the south. They use the buildings there as their dens, so if they haven’t just eaten the other documents, you might find one there… but you’ll have to search their lairs thoroughly, I wager.”

Norman doesn’t ask why he’s getting more documents. He doesn’t ask why this idiot knows exactly where the wild animals have taken the city documents. He doesn’t ask why or how worgen stole all these stacks of paperwork from the town hall. He just marches out the door and takes us straight to the Rotting Orchard.

If we took care of the trees here would people re-name it?

If we took care of the trees here would people re-name it?

“So.. ‘Rotting Orchard’,” I say, “Sounds like an odd thing to name your orchard. Did they name it that when it was planted, or did they take the time to re-name it later?”

“Less talking, more setting things on fire,” he snaps.

Remember, we`re looking for PAPERS.

Remember, we`re looking for PAPERS.

I am only too happy to oblige. We roast a few more man-mutts and Norman finds a torn journal page inside of haystack at the back of a filthy, disused barn.

Let`s see... this haystack is the accounting ledgers, this one over here is the minutes from the city meetings, and ah! Here`s where they keep records of what happened to mysterious visitors.

Let`s see... this haystack is the accounting ledgers, this one over here is the minutes from the city meetings, and ah! Here`s where they keep records of what happened to mysterious visitors.

We return the scraps to the Clerk in town, who is overcome with a profound lack of gratitude.

“This was all you found? That’s bad news, I’m afraid…” he tells us.

“Yes. I’m sure it’s filled with terrible dark secrets or whatever. I don’t care. Brother. Location. Now.”

The setting feels like Edgar Allan Poe, but this quest chain feels more Franz Kafka.

The setting feels like Edgar Allan Poe, but this quest chain feels more Franz Kafka.

“You should let it go, friend.”

“You should just answer the question. Look, make something up. It’s not like there’s a shortage of ways to die here in Darkshire. I could tell his brother he was killed by worgen. Devoured by spiders. Clawed by wolves. Slain by ghosts. Just pick something.”

“The only place left to look is Roland’s Doom. That’s the mine south of town, and the largest lair of worgen in Duskwood. Nobody in Darkshire has ever made it back from that place alive. In fact, some of the records I have here imply that’s where the monsters first came from… who knows what evil’s lurking in there?”

“I guess we’ll find out,” Norman says threateningly. He’s breathing hard, and his eye seems to be twitching. He keeps clenching and opening his hands. “I’m going to help someone. One person. That’s all I ask. I think I’ve earned it. I’m going to help him, and you’re going to help me, help him. The sooner you answer the question, the sooner I stop bothering you.”

Amazingly, this mine doesn`t have any Kobolds in it. Probably a bug.

Amazingly, this mine doesn`t have any Kobolds in it. Probably a bug.

We go to Roland’s Doom. We kill a bunch of stuff. Then Norman goes right into the mine and butchers his way to the very end. There, in the last chamber, he finds some muddy journal pages. He stomps all the way back to town, muttering to himself and chewing on his mustache.

“You actually went and got it?!”, the clerk says in wonder, “I don’t know whether to call you brave or insane. But once again, my archives thank you.”

I`m doing this quest, which means I`m both brave AND insane.

I`m doing this quest, which means I`m both brave AND insane.

“You have the worst filing system in the world,” Norman says as he pulls some worgen fur out of the new tears in his robe.

“You’ve recovered everything. Everything except the last page…”

Norman screams.

“…which I’ve got right here,” the clerk adds quickly. “Don’t look at me like that. You’ll understand when you read it. Some even say it’s cursed, you know. In fact, I was relieved when the worgen broke in and made off with these! Take it. Take all of it, in fact. I thank you for recovering my archives, but I don’t want anything to do with this ever again. Please, just leave me be.” He hands Norman a book containing the story of Stalvan.

You can read the whole thing here. It’s a bit long. The short version is: Stalvan was an old guy. Got a crush on a young woman. Got jilted. Killed some people. Died.

“This?” Norman says, leafing through the book, “THIS bullshit is the big secret you couldn’t tell me? An old murder case? You sent me to fight an army of feral wolf-men to get you a bunch of records you didn’t need, to avoid telling me something slightly unpleasant? You clearly expected me to die on your idiotic errands. You’d rather see me dead than lift a finger to do your very simple job. You think Stalvan was bad? I’ve killed more people than him just today. I killed a dozen or so hobos in Westfall just this afternoon.” Norman stops for a moment. He’s panting, red-faced, and spitting as he rages on, “How did you think this was going to end? Did you think I’d turn in the last page of your archives, find out you screwed me, and then wander off?”

The clerk looks terrified now, but at least he’s stopped asking us to look for papers.

Norman continues, “Think about this: You were so afraid of the worgen. You thought they were so badass. Well I killed them. Alone. I’m more dangerous than all of them combined, and I’m pissed off. At you. At your filing system. At the people you work for. At your whole stupid town. And now think about this: I’m going to get my revenge on…”

Suddenly he stops. He suddenly realizes what he’s saying and doing. Norman looks down at me in horror. Then he runs out of the room, crying.

(Heartfelt music plays.)

(Heartfelt music plays.)

“Easy there, boss,” I tell him. It’s a half hour later and we’re sitting in the graveyard just outside of town. “Getting rid of that last little shred of hope is always the hardest part. You’re better off now.”

“But that’s it. There’s nobody left to help. Nobody that isn’t going to sabotage my efforts to help them. I’m a failure. Just like mother said,” he trails off and starts blubbering again.

“But she was wrong. You’re good at one thing. You’re good at evil.”

Norman looks up in confusion. “What? I’m not evil. Why would you even say that?”

“Did you ever care about those people?”

“You saw how hard I worked to help them!”

“I didn’t ask you if you tried to help them. I asked you if you cared about them.”

“Isn’t… isn’t that the same thing?”

“I’m not allowed to force mortals to do stuff, but imagine for a second that I could. Imagine if I threatened to kill Marshal McBride if he didn’t do my bidding. Would that make him evil?”

Norman actually has to think about this for a while. Maybe he thinks I’m trying to trick him. Eventually he says, “I guess not. I mean, if you forced him to do it…”

I nod my head. “See, that works both ways. Doing good because you’re afraid of being punished don’t make you good. It just makes you a coward.”

“I don’t understand. Are you saying my mother is the only reason I haven’t turned to evil?”

“There you go twisting my words again. No, I’m not saying your mother is preventing you from being evil. I’m saying you’ve been evil the whole time.”

“That doesn’t make any sense. I don’t feel evil.”

“What do you think ‘evil’ feels like?”

“I don’t know. I’ve always imagined it would be unpleasant. Or ugly. That’s how… huh. That’s how Mother always made it sound.”

“Lemme ask you: If you went back into town and set the town clerk on fire, how would that feel?”

Norman nods, “Right now? That would feel pretty good.”

“And if you set him on fire and roasted marshmallows on him, how would that feel?”

Norman stands up, excited. “Bury him in all his stupid papers! Then light him on fire. Then roast the marshmallows while he’s still screaming. Yes. I see now! I should kill all of these stupid assholes that have gotten in my way!”

“You’re doing it! I knew you had it in you!” I cheer.

He looks wide-eyed at the town and the surrounding countryside, “It’s not even my fault, really. They brought this on themselves. All of them. They deserve to burn.” He pauses for a few moments, “Oh, but what about Mother? When she finds out…”

(Triumphant music swells.)

(Triumphant music swells.)

“Steady, boss. Yes, she’s gonna be mad. She will certainly try to stop you. Might even try to kill you. But for once, she’s going to have to respect you.”

Norman looks down at me, “I guess this is it, then? Now that I’ve turned evil you’ll be leaving?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. I wouldn’t miss this for anything. Look, a deal is a deal. I’m all yours, for the rest of your life.”

“Great.”

Evil will always triumph, because good is Dumb.

Evil will always triumph, because good is Dumb.

“Of course, after that, you’re all mine. A deal’s a deal, remember?”

“Yeah,” he says nervously. “Well, I guess we’d better make this count.”

“Sure. And it won’t be so bad. When we get to the infernal realms I’ll take you to a nice spot where I like to go skiing.”

“Let’s do this!” Norman says.

Norman Blightbringer: Evil and FABULOUS!

Norman Blightbringer: Evil and FABULOUS!

Norman Lightbringer changed his name to “Blightbringer” and founded the cult called “Avenging Legion of Vengeance Cult”. They built a lair and ran attacks against the regions surrounding Darkshire. Their long-term goal is to become enough of a menace that their hideout will become a 5-man raid.

Greetings <PLAYERNAME>, I am in need of strong adventurers such as yourself, you see...

Greetings <PLAYERNAME>, I am in need of strong adventurers such as yourself, you see...

Lady Lightbringer heard about her son’s treachery and is currently seeking random adventurers to hunt him down.

The REAL HERO here.

The REAL HERO here.

Gobstab the demon was awarded Employee of the Month for Norman’s quick and decisive turn to evil, and was eventually promoted to regional manager for Demonic Outreach in Azeroth.

The End


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From the Archives:

  1. Phill says:

    And somehow Norman’s fall to evil in a spoof WoW series carries more emotional weight than, say, Anakin Skywalker’s in the Star Wars prequels.

    I’ve enjoyed the nostalgia kick off re reading this series. Are you going to repost the adventures of Star on Chest next from Champions Online (IIRC)?

  2. TheAngryMonoogse says:

    “It’s AMAZING what they can do with steam power these days.”
    To be fair, as a Gnomish invension, it probably runs on nuclear power and punch cards.

    • sheer_falacy says:

      Since it’s a gnomish invention, if anything goes wrong it’ll explode and irradiate you. Now, that sounds bad, but your alternative is to use a goblin invention. If you use one of those and it works perfectly then it will explode and kill you. It’s best not to think about what they do if something goes wrong.

      • …In case anyone’s actually wondering, yes, the Gnomish “something-goes-wrong-and-it-explodes” thing is still an ongoing joke; one of the Blacksmith crafting quests I had to do to get some more recipes involved taking a sphere I scrounged from a corpse to the Engineering trainer and the quest text had him state his hope about it not exploding.

        I get the feeling I should be glad Engineering was never a profession I got that into. :P

        • You’re missing out! Nothing beats having a 1 in 3 chance of anything you make or use literally exploding violently in your face at the most inopportune time imaginable! Because RNG is fun!

          Thankfully Blizzard cleared most of that up over the years. Never got into Engineering in Legion but I mained it through Wrath and Cata. If you can put up with all the inventory clutter it can be one of the most legitimately useful professions to have. It’s also usually a top tier DPS boost, best paired with Jewelcrafting for maximum gain.

          Don’t expect to make any money off of it, though. Almost everything an Engineer can do is exclusive to Engineers, and even with the separate Goblin and Gnomish disciplines there’s nothing you can sell to other Engineers that they can’t just as easily make themselves. All you’re left with for general players are a few pets and incredibly expensive and time consuming mounts. Considering what they cost to make and how infrequently they sell you’re better off doing almost anything else to make your money.

          All those gadgets are still really fun to play with, though.

          • Migrant says:

            Legion engineering isn’t great, honestly.

            They don’t really get anything new, most things are just slightly more powerful versions of their old toys, except typically one time use and insanely expensive. Luckily, there’s a multi-use version of a lot of these combined into Reeves, the new robot.

            Of course, before 7.1.5, you had to use a one use item to summon it, made with the most expensive ore in the game.

            So yeah, engineering is still obscenely expensive, and now most of its cool trinkets can be replaced with toys and potions, which anyone can use.

      • Agammamon says:

        Well, its a Gnomish invention, so its already irradiating you even before it explodes. Shielding’s heavy, you see . . .

  3. MichaelGC says:

    It could be mist in those bottles…

    I like how what looks like a small plothole actually isn’t, and instead just shows how Norman is teetering on the brink. When he says to Clerk Daltry, “Look, make something up,” the last dregs of Norman’s conscience prevent him from realising he too has that option – he could just go back and make something up. The practical effect would be identical, but the shade of moral difference between passing on a lie and creating that lie from whole cloth is still just enough at this stage to give pre-triumphant-music Norman pause. It’s very well done.

    Anyway, I shall miss Norman and Gobstab, but I think both will be happier now that Norman has found his true calling, and I’m somewhat squeeful to see what’s next.

    PS “Magistrate Soloman peers at us through his monocle”
    -All Os in ‘Solomon.’

    “not allowed to force morals to do stuff”
    -His morals presumably prevent him from forcing mortals to act against their morals.

    • Syal says:

      The real tragedy is that Norman’s fall was due to him believing the fastest, most straightforward way to get information was through the local bureaucrat. I bet an old lady a couple houses down would have just told him.

      • MichaelGC says:

        Absolutely – either in his incipient crisis of conscience he’s not thinking straight, or he actually doesn’t want to find an answer yet, as that would minimise his immediate opportunities for reasonable incineration. Possibly both!

    • Philadelphus says:

      His morals presumably prevent him from forcing mortals to act against their morals.

      It’s bad for morale.

  4. thatSeniorGuy says:

    Second time was even better than the first, great to read that again Shamus! Looking forward to whatever you have planned next.

  5. Dreadjaws says:

    Hey, Shamus, do you ever plan on making a new one of these? I mean, it doesn’t have to be for a new game, just make a new character and revisit the old ones. After all these years, many things are bound to be different (I know, for instance, that leaving aside the tutorial area, Champions Online has featured a lot of changes, some for the best, some not).

  6. Ninety-Three says:

    I think this outfit looks pretty badass

    You look like you have a Chinese Finger trap on every one of your fingers. Or really big French nails, the polygon-count makes it hard to tell.

  7. Somniorum says:

    “My favorite area of the game. Just seeing these screenshots makes me want to re-enlist for a few months of WoW.”

    Ah, there’s no need – Blizzard decided to make it canon and burned Darkshire down in honour of Blightbringer. It’s just a big black patch with a mountain in the centre now.

  8. Lachlan the Mad says:

    Kind of tempted to try writing some quest text for Agatha Lightbringer:

    “Greetings, ! I am in need of strong adventurers like yourself! You see, I once foolishly dallied with a foul necromancer and produced a son, Norman, who inherited his father’s magics and my own sense of justice — or so I thought. I left him at the Academy of Arcane Arts and Sciences when I left on the crusade against Deathwing, hoping that he would come to serve the Light, but when I returned, I discovered that he had fallen into cavorting with demons! He calls himself “Norman Blightbringer” now, and founded a necromantic order, the Avenging Legion of Vengeance Cult. I need you to travel to Darkshire, slay the cultists and their demons, grab my son by the ear, and drag him back to me for the beating he so richly deserves!”

    …To be honest, I’m not sure if this is too self-aware or not self-aware enough…

    • 4th Dimension says:

      It’s too sane. For proper quests you need to make them as ridiculous and stupid as possible. Like cut the last sentence and have her ask you for help and then have you go out there collecting something less than relevant. Like collecting pictures of Norman when he way just a wee lad from the so you would know who to look.

      When you do collect all the photos (none of which have an adult Norman on them) have her thank you and than make s “leap” of “logic” that would result in you trying to free… I don’t know a green shorts factory since she Norman always wore them and now that he is evil he will probably try to take it over so he can get his green shorts or something.

      Etc
      Etc

    • stomponator says:

      “Good grief, lady! No need to tell me your life’s story. Just point at the person that needs killing and keep those ninety coppers handy.”

  9. Squash says:

    This episode tops off the series perfectly. It is like Abbot and Costello vaudeville meets C S Lewis’ Screwtape Letters. Brilliant!

  10. Prana135 says:

    Wait, is that bit with Norman’s mother an actual quest in the game?

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