I love seeing new content, especially questing content, for the first time. There is an awe factor that is hard to describe when entering a new zone or seeing an instance you’ve never been to before.
The Wrath of the Lich King expansion has brought some amazing innovation to World of Warcraft. The vehicle mechanics and some of the changes to questing are a great change from the old go get 10 goat brains and bring them back to the quest giver that we had in the past.
There is a lot to be said for vanilla WoW however. An Alliance member going to Westfall for the first time and working on one of the first important story arc quest chains leading up to the Deadmines (see Deconstructing Westfall by Belghast from Tales From the Aggronaut).
My favorite quest chain in the game, the one I see as the most epic (and painful) is the quest for the Drakefire Amulet – orginally the attunement for going to fight Onyxia. In vanilla WoW, if you wanted to fight Ony, the whole raid needed to be attuned. Here is a breakdown of the 15 quests needed to be attuned on the Alliance side.
First, comes Dragonkin Menace. An NPC in Burning Steppes, Helendis Riverhorn, directs you to do your basic kill-type quest of dragonkin and a dragon. The catch: some of the mobs are elite. Take a friend and get on it.
Next you move on to the first of a number of message delivery quests: The True Masters . In the first part, you travel from Burning Steppes to Lakeshire to deliver a letter to Magistrate Solomon. In the next The True Masters sends you from Lakeshire to Stormwind Keep to talk to Highloard Bolvar (where you meet and ‘talk to’ Lady Prestor – some foreshadowing here, but I don’t want to ruin it at this point). Now back to Lakeshire in this part of The True Masters followed by a return to Morgan’s Vigil in the Burning Steppes to chat with Marshal Maxwell ( The True Masters ).
Just when you thought message delivery boy/girl duty was done, the final part of The True Masters sends you into the Burning Steppes to find and speak to someone named Ragged John.
Seems pretty non-epic up to this point really. Instances make it a bit more exciting, but with a bigger margin of pain in the butt. Ragged John sends you into Blackrock Depths to find Marshal Windsor . This is an instance quest you can start at level 54. Go with friends and if you have any patience at all you will wait until you are higher level than 54. Marshal Windsor is located in the prison section of this very large instance near the beginning. You’ll have to have someone who has the key which requires you to kill a boss-type NPC or a rogue might do nicely.
Marshal Windsor tells you to leave the instance (and him in his cell??) to tell Marshall Maxwell what you have learned – again (Abandoned Hope ).
Oddly, Marshal Maxell has no followup quest for you. Nothing. This is an oddly ended questline – or is it?
When you journey back into BRD (lucky that you just happened to go back with another – hopefully the same – instance group) you will randomly find A Crumpled Up Note on one of the Dark Iron Dwarves you kill. The ensuing quest has you return to Marshal Winsdor who, since he dind’t want to leave his dank cell before, is still in the prison. Are you ready to break him out yet? Well, he isn’t ready.
It’s time to get some lost information for Windsor dropped by General Angerforge and Golem Lord Argelmach deeper in BRD for A Shred of Hope .
Ok, finally Marshal Windsor wants out and the true epicness of this chain begins. In order to stage this Jail Break! , you need to clear all the mobs out of what will be his path. Remember this quest is designed for level 58 and is described as elite. You’ll need a good group and some patience to pull this one off. Make sure your tank and healer is ready since groups of mobs will spawn in your path hence the reason you need to clear what you can clear. You can’t heal Windsor and he pulls a fair amount of aggro. This quest can cause problems at the beginning and at the end from a mechanics point of view. Since it’s a group quest and it’s likely that you whole group needs it, be careful that no one begins the quest before everyone has turned in the previous one to him. If you haven’t turned in the previous quest before Jail Break starts, you will not get credit. At the end, Windsor stops just before the portal entrance. If you try to follow him and accidentally port out, you will not get credit. This happened to a person in my party on every character I did this chain on no matter how much they were warned before we started.
Jail Break is the point that will decide if you will continue with the chain. It used to take a while to find a group capable to do it without causing you personal permanent brain damage.
<Start old man voice> When I was young, the Trade Channel was bloated with people looking for groups for Jail Break. You couldn’t swing a dead murloc without hitting someone who needed to do that escort quest. <End old man voice>
In the vanilla WoW days, it was suggested that you do all the parts with Marshall Windsor at the same time with the same group. Set aside 4 or more hours (no lie) and get them all done. You leave Windsor and go talk to Maxwell at Morgan’s Vigil.
The next part of this chain is the beginning of awesome for me. During Stormwind Rendezvous (Raid) you meet up with Windsor at the entrance to Stormwind as he rides in from Elwynn Forest on his horse. Interesting mechanic done by Blizzard on this one. How does Windsor know you need to see him there? How does he know when you’re ready to talk to him? It’s set up so that a short time after you zone into Stormwind, either by griffon or by land, Windsor knows to spawn and wait for you.
From the gates of Stormwind, you ‘escort’ Windsor to Stormwind Keep for The Great Masquerade (raid) . As you follow him along the roads of Stormwind, he will stop to talk to General Marcus Johnathan. Some posturing happens here and eventually you will continue to follow him to the keep. Windsor makes his way in to the keep and speaks to (read yells at) Highlord Bolvar Fordragon about Lady Prestor standing to Bolvar’s left. Windsor reads some rune he has with him and Lady Prestor turns into a large black dragonkin – Onyxia! The first time I saw this and what happens next I was awestruck. The whole room jumps into action. Feel free to try to help, but don’t pull aggro. At level 60, you will die very quickly. Some of the guards turn into dragonkin and a semi-scripted battle ensues that finds Windsor dead and Fordragon very angry.
In the next stage, The Dragons Eye , Bolvar will give you a medallion to take to an NPC named Haleh in Winterspring. You must find an NPC named Haleh. Take a group, or get naked for a corpse run through a cave of elites to a portal near the end. Step on the blue mark on the ground and be teleported to Haleh.
Haleh tells you to retreive the Blood of the Black Dragon champion from General Drakkisath in Bupper Blackrock Spire for the quest Drakefire Amulet .
<Start old man voice> When I was a little boy, General Drakkisath only dropped one blood per run. If someone ninja’d it, you would get to run UBRS again and again for yours … AND YOU LIKED IT! <End old man voice>
Remember that ‘in the old days’, UBRS was a minimum of 10 people, but you could do it with 15. Fifteen people potentially all looking for the only blood that will drop. The math needed to devise the probability of how many runs it would take to get your blood if you were in a group of 14 other different people each run is beyond my willingness to calculate. Luckily, Blizzard realized the sheer number of monitors that were being punched due to this and upped the number of blood dropped to between 2 and 4 per run later in the game.
Think you’re done? No, you forgot about the corpse run back to Haleh to turn in the quest. Get going, it’s epic.