Hello again, we return for another Game Design Exercise post. As promised, we are done with Farahlon (unless I decide to make a proper art map for it one day) and we are moving on to our next topic. You probably already know what to expect from the title and my previous GDE post, but hey, when an expansion announcement at BlizzCon comes we usually know the trademark and the obvious implication of what comes from the trademarked title. So let me put on my best impression of Chris Metzen and “announce” this thing.
Ever since World of Warcraft began, it had a deep, expansive mythology. Although we started with just Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms, we always knew there was so much more out there. And we always wanted to bring all of that rich universe to life in the game. Since before the game came out, we had plans for how we would implement various elements of this universe. And as time went by we slowly implemented those realms into World of Warcraft. We visited Outland and defeated Illidan. We went back to Azeroth to go to Northrend and finally deal with the Lich King once and for all. In Cataclysm, we visited the Elemental Planes. And we always knew Pandaria was out there, and Mists of Pandaria we finally got to see it. We even went to Draenor before it was destroyed.
But there’s one element that we haven’t visited yet. One element that we always knew was out there. A special, magical realm underlying all of Azeroth. And we always struggled how to properly represent it, given its vast size and all the lore behind it. But we thought, it’s time to finally get it done. To finally let the heroes of Azeroth into this mystical realm… realm of dreams… and nightmares. A realm that was once again comes under attack by nefarious forces and needs our help. Because if we no longer can find safe haven even in our dreams… how can we ever feel safe?
Ladies and Gentlemen… Dream of Creation!
Ysera: Mortals have always found sanctuary within their dreams. [Images of a verdant plain with floating trees] The Emerald Dream, the world of dreams of mortal souls. A backup of the world as it was… the world as it was meant to be in the rigorous, unchanging plan the Titans had for it. [Bipedal nymphs prancing around, and other fairies] The world has changed so much since then. Entire continents have broken apart. Civilizations rose and fell. But the Dream… it remained constant. It remained a safe haven for the lost souls, where nothing could find and harm them. But for every dream… there is a nightmare.
[The landscape changes – the plain gets covered in dark, brown-green energy, the trees get anchored down and twisted by thorns. The fairies get corrupted] The Nightmare… a dark force from beyond… strives to corrupt our last bastion and to take us all alive. Because they know if they take our dreams… they will take our souls.
Satyr voice: And it’s about time for change. [A dense jungle is shown, when a troop of satyrs emerge, with nightwalkers towering over their forces, hags and other evil fey among them, and corrupted nightmare dragons flying above the troops. They begin killing the nature in the jungle] Your weak, defenseless minds are ripe for conquest from within. Before you realize, you will belong to us. [A nymph is transformed by a satyr into a hag] Your Alliance… your Horde… all will belong to the Nightmare… and chaos will reign Azeroth.
NEW ALLIANCE RACE: ARAKKOA
[shots of arakkoa standing around in old gear in a zone resembling Terokkar, but with ED effects]
No matter how alien your new allies are, nothing will match our power.
NEW HORDE RACE: SATYRS
[shots of satyrs, likewise in old gear, standing in a dark zone with thorny trees]
No matter how many traitors you turn to your side, they will all perish.
NEW WORLD: EMERALD DREAM
[shots of various zones – previously seen plains and jungle, a yellow shrubland with giants walking around, a wintery landscape with a giant crystal palace, and a dark, twisted landscape full of thorns and the corrupted aura]
NEW CHARACTER CUSTOMIZATION OPTION: THEMES
[shots of a warlock with a pet grell, summoning an ancient, and a paladin throwing dark green AoE effects]
10 NEW DUNGEONS. 2 CLASSIC DUNGEONS REMADE
3 NEW RAIDS
NEW PvP ZONE
[shots of a hellish, red landscape littered with elements resembling various Alliance kingdoms and Horde clans]
[shots of: a Fomorian (one of ones from the famous Emerald Dream giant statues), spectral huntsmen with antlered helms, hags, a new model of satyrs, nightwalkers and a new model of worgen]
We are as limitless as the dreaming souls in this realm.
[A white satyr with streaks of the same brown-green energy appears, tied to a great, gnarled tree with tendrils of energy. The tendrils disappear and he looks up.] Sweet dreams.
The Alliance and Horde find new allies within the confines of the Emerald Dream. The alien Arakkoa arrive to the Dream from the shattered world of Outland via their broken god’s Anzu’s connection to the Nightmare’s true masters. Within Ravenwood, they must confront their past as slaves to a dark master, and whatever future holds for them outside of this dreamy realm that is shattering around them like their homeworld once did. Soon they’ll learn that only the Alliance can save their proud race from a certain doom, be it from the Nightmare… or their own gods.
Meanwhile, not all Satyrs are corrupt monsters that revel in destruction. Some have taken to much more… mundane pleasures. Pranksters who sometimes don’t know when to stop joking, these satyrs embraced the fey nature of their new home in the Emerald Dream. But their leader, the Albino, does not wish to see the power of their race humiliated in this way and will do everything in his power to bring them back into the fold or, failing that, to destroy them. Only the Horde can help these rebel satyrs find their freedom.
THE EMERALD DREAM
A brave, new world opens up before you. The fabled, mythical realm of the Emerald Dream is now accessible through some of the Dream portals that were scattered across the world since the game’s inception. In its natural state, the Emerald Dream is a peaceful, calm realm where the spirits of dreaming mortals can peacefully coexist with the native spirits. But even in this state, there are many fey creatures that would harm you. Some would do it as part of pranks that get out of control, and some would actively seek your soul to use its worst fears and nightmares for their own gain. And then, the Nightmare begins encroaching again and corrupting this wild, untamed realm into a mockery of its former selves. All at the behest of the new Nightmare Lord and his true master: N’Zoth.
The Overgrowth: Consisting of a dream version of what the Barrens were like before the Sundering, this lush jungle is still teeming with uncorrupted life. However, the local gateway was used as a conduit by the amoral Wild Hunt to kidnap the youth of Azeroth to convert them into more of their own. Now, the spectral huntsmen stalk the jungle and wait for your smallest mistake…
Verdant Plains: The usual hunting grounds of the Wild Hunt, whole cavalcades of these spectral warriors are often seen trampling through the grounds and terrorizing all the local fey. It is here, in the dream equivalent of Westfall and surrounding lands, that the heroes of Azeroth will find the Wild Hunt’s stronghold and learn this strange movement’s true origins and motives… and only here they will be able to put them down for good.
Korredon: This canyon is called home by the diminutive and friendly creatures called korreds. But do not be fooled by this arcadian facade, as the Nightmare has begun seeping even into this land and corrupting the innocent korreds into a dangerous force. If that wasn’t enough, a race of strange and dangerous bee-like fey is emerging from the south, seeing the upheaval as a perfect chance to claim their part of the spoils.
Fomoria: Home of the once-friendly emerald giants called Fomorians, this brightly yellow shrubland has been overtaken by a new, mysterious master. The Fomorians are no longer friendly and wield eldritch powers against any intruders, with a special grudge against humanity. This mysterious master has mysterious ties to Azeroth’s past and the chaos engulfing the Emerald Dream.
Avaelon: From this magic-infused realm the Seelie Court rules the good fey of the Emerald Dream. But even here, they struggle against the darkness inherent to the Emerald Dream, the darkness stemming from the dark hearts of the mortals who died while dreaming. These dark fey, often called the Unseelie Court, hamper the everynight life of the good fey and peaceful dreamers and must be stopped.
Zin’theril, Lands of Eternal Winter: The Emerald Dream is a realm of life and even in this frozen land, it blooms in all possible forms. Enchanted into otherworldly forms, crystal trees and crystal dryads span the snowy fields. Meanwhile, an evil force stirs in the far north. Queen of the Winter Fey arises from her sleep once again and seeks to engulf the entire Dream, as well as Azeroth itself, in a never-ending winter.
The Felfae: Even the Emerald Dream did not completely escape Burning Legion’s corruption. In this corrupted forests, some of the nastiest fey creatures dwell and hatch plans to corrupt the Dream, and with it, all the dreaming mortals. The black hags work tirelessly to turn grells into imps and hamadryads into succubi in their long plan. The green dragons failed to eliminate this threat for centuries, now the task is up to you.
Xaxarin, Broken Dreams: The zone that is the furthest within the throes of Nightmare’s corruption, this twisted, dark landscape is filled with some of the toughest creatures you will find in the Emerald Dream. This heartland of both dark loa spirits and the satyrs, gathering around the Black Tree of Xavius, will prove to be a challenge to even the most seasoned veterans of Azeroth’s wars.
Eye of Ysera: Historically the safe haven of the green dragonflight, it is now once again under assault by dark forces from Azeroth’s deepest nightmares. The Rift of Aln runs through the zone and continues to spew more dangerous creatures every day, defying any attempt to close or contain it. The Dreamwalkers who serve Ysera to help her manage the realm without her full powers, gather in ancient palaces and plan for the inevitable emergence of the true mastermind behind the Nightmare.
Themes allow you to see your class in a way you’ve never seen it before. Many of the game’s classes can be transformed into entirely new incarnations with just one button. Prepare for fey warlocks, dark paladins, twilight priests and many more. But don’t think anyone can use them. Access to every theme has to be earned in special questlines that prepare you to turn from your usual philosophy to an entirely new mindset.
[Most of the class remains obviously identical, but the theme gives you some mostly cosmetic changes. Fey warlocks will mostly do Nature damage instead of Shadow and the demons they summon will be replaced by slightly different fey creatures. Spectral hunters will gain new effects to their spells and pets, but mostly remains the same mechanically. Every class has different themes, and not every single one has to have an equal number of themes at release of X.0]
TEN ENTIRELY NEW DUNGEONS
WAILING CAVERNS AND SUNKEN TEMPLE REMADE AS ENDGAME HEROICS
THREE NEW RAIDS
Prepare to fight entirely new enemies across the Emerald Dream, as well as discovering new faces of old favorites. The legacy of Xavius threatens Azeroth again in a series of dungeons and a raid culminating in defeat of the First Satyr himself. The corruption grips some of the Dream’s valiant defenders once again, with the Nightmare Dragons returning to threaten Azeroth in a new form. The amoral Wild Hunt terrorizes fey and mortal alike, seeking only goal: to hunt, and to replenish their numbers with innocent souls. Even an ancient enemy of humankind returns in a new form, hoping to throw his yoke on them once again. The Unseelie Court plots in the shadows as well, straddling a thin line between the Nightmare and their eternal enemies.
ACHERON: DREAM OF WAR
In this layer of the Emerald Dream, tormented old spirits found a way to live on for eternity in the only way they knew: war. This realm, shaped from the dreams and desires of the most bigoted warriors of Alliance and Horde, has taken the form of a hellish, war-torn landscape with elements from all over across the Eastern Kingdoms. The spirit of once powerful leaders of the two factions have taken seat in this realm and see little difference between their fellow specters and the heroes infiltrating the Emerald Dream. Now, they hire you to wage their unending war across the fields of Acheron. Even though they know this war can never end, they continue fighting it… because war is all they remember.
Even this realm was not nightmarish enough for the Albino and his satyrs and they sent a Twilight Corruptor with an aim of bringing back some of the worst nightmares of both sides. Forces of Gul’dan and the Shadow Council reemerge in a spectral form in a special dungeon in the middle of Acheron’s battlefield. Only those who gained the favor of Daelin Proudmoore or Orgrim Doomhammer can gain access to this dungeon and put the dark spirits of the Stormreavers to rest.
Although the Emerald Dream was always a peaceful realm, it never lacked forces that would seek to use its power to their own ends. From evil fey, to creatures of the Nightmare, to threats we brought on ourselves, these are a small part of the enemies you might meet in the Emerald Dream.
Arakkrai: Even though the arakkoa stayed in the Emerald Dream for a very short time, the Nightmare had a profound effect on them. Some of them were warped into vulture-like creatures. Although they regained their wings, they lost the remains of their sanity and completely embraced their dark, new master: N’Zoth.
Satyrs: The satyrs originated with Xavius, a former adviser of Azshara, transformed by Sargeras into a hideous monster. But once he was turned into a tree by Malfurion Stormrage, Xavius gained access to a whole new realm, the Emerald Dream, and the dark force corrupting it, N’Zoth. The satyrs have since embraced this new master and spread the Nightmare by his will.
Nightwalkers: These monstrous gargantuan creatures were once ancient night elves who fell prey to the Nightmare while within the Dream. While their bodies withered, their spirits were transformed into unhuman monsters that roam the peaceful layers of the Emerald Dream with only one goal: to corrupt. Followed by hordes of their twisted slaves, they leave nothing but death in their wake.
Hags: A threat native to the Emerald Dream, these vile fey are ancient witches with a taste for humanoid flesh. Served by their beautiful daughters and warped sons, they roam the plains and forests of this realm to harvest the young spirits traversing it for their twisted rituals. While most hags have no long-term agenda, the Unseelie Court and Baba Yaga are moving in the wake of the re-awakening Nightmare.
Fomorians: Once peaceful giants left by the Titans to watch the Emerald Dream and keep it from being invaded by mortal forces, centuries ago something happened to them. A new master arrived with dark tidings and found means to control these behemoths. They acquired new, eldritch powers and began to scour the Dream, with a particular enmity against humans.
The Wild Hunt: These spectral huntsmen are subjects of elven and human legend alike. Spoken of as enigmatic spirits racing across the sky in pursuit of invisible prey, they are feared and revered. They are ferocious fighters of unknown origin that appear to have members from multiple races of Azeroth. Everyone knows one thing about them: how they reproduce. They sneak into houses at night and kidnap mortal children to raise them and convert them into their own. It is their ravenous escapade into the waking world that brought the heroes of Azeroth to the Emerald Dream, but their fall will not end this adventure.
Korreds: Normally tiny, jovial spirits that bear a passing resemblance to gnomes, these hairy creatures are slowly falling prey to a Nightmare malady that turns them into violence-loving redcaps. These mean, green-skinned creatures took to raiding korred villages and turning all their joys into pain. Only with the help of heroes of Azeroth can peace be brought once again to their lands.
Vespenes: These mysterious, bee-like fey stayed away from most of the Emerald Dream for countless generations. Only now, they emerge again from the Vespene Gate and raid outlying settlements. No one knows what they’re looking for or which side they’re on. What everybody knows for sure is that when these creatures show up, it means trouble.
And that’s it for today. More will undoubtedly come, looking into many of the features, zones, storylines and dungeons in depth. For now, enjoy the early sketch of things to come, shaped in the form you’d usually see announced at BlizzCon. As you might notice, I’m woefully lacking in artwork (if you can provide it, I’d be happy to have you on board) and we’re lacking a “major characters” section. That’s because some names and roles are still in flux but do not worry: soon enough, you will see the storyline take its shape.