Welcome back to Game Design Exercise. The first thing you might notice is I decided to shorten the title. “Game Design Exercise” was taking up a lot of precious character space, so I decided to shorten it in case I ever need a particularly long title for one of the sections. The second thing you might notice is that the map posted this time is different from the previous one. I continue working on it and although most of the additions are things I hid from public view (because they spoil future content before it’s ready) there are some zone shape and size changes. They stem from me noticing that Ravenwood and Thornbranch are definitely too small. Most starting zones aren’t much smaller than regular end-game zones, so I thought I wouldn’t be able to realistically squish in a full 1-13 experience in those areas. They are now bigger, partially at the cost of the oversized Verdant Plains.
Another thing I wanted to talk about before the break is a concern that was raised on Twitter recently. Dream of Creation is adopting several fey creatures from Dungeons & Dragons and other fantasy sources and one of those creatures is called a hag. They’re ugly troll-like creatures that undeniably bear some resemblance to a caricature of an old woman, and the term likely comes from there. To me, a person with a certain fantasy gaming experience, hags were just a normal thing that didn’t raise any red light. I was however told that the term is considered offensive. I mean, it’s obvious calling a real person “hag” is an offense, but a person was concerned that using it as a name of a fantasy creature is offensive as well, regardless of the term’s past in the genre. Personally, I don’t see it, but if enough people see it as a valid concern, I will adopt it. So, what do you think? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below.
So, I invite you to read my take on arakkoa starting experience for Dream of Creation, an Emerald Dream expansion. They are arakkoa from the main timeline, so they continue storylines from the Burning Crusade and only influences from Warlords of Draenor are clarifications about the common past of both timelines and references – such as WoD characters showing up here in their main timeline incarnations. Enjoy!
Your level 1 arakkoa character starts in Skettis, or rather an instanced, updated version of it. The landscape, the buildings and the NPCs have been updated with new, higher quality graphics but the layout overall remains the same, since it’s supposed to be the same, exact place, only experienced from the other side. As noted on the arakkoa race page, arakkoa can be warriors, rogues, hunters (with a kaliri/bird of prey starter pet), priests, mages, warlocks, shamans or druids. Most of these don’t need much explanation. Everyone should have warriors, rogues and hunters. Priests are one of the most iconic classes for arakkoa. Mages are rare among current arakkoa mobs, but fit thematically. Warlocks have been spotted as well as some warlocks spells have been woven into some arakkoa. Shamans are the most common arakkoa casters, and druids come from their bond with Anzu, who at this time in our timeline is in the Emerald Dream, serving N’Zoth. They don’t have monks and death knights because it’d be very unlike for arakkoa to end up as one, and paladins are inaccessible because they are rare and don’t really fit their themes.
You start in Upper Veil Shi’lak (1 on the Skettis map). You are surrounded by class trainers, mobs with names similar to the ones you found in Skettis in tBC, and a few named characters. The one you might recognize from before is Talonpriest Skizzik, who’s one of the major characters here. Skizzik is responsible for breeding the monstrous kaliri that protect the skies of Skettis from adventurers but nevertheless, some have recently found a way to sneak through. You are tasked with killing those pesky intruders, as well as taking kaliri eggs from the tops of the towers and bringing them back to Skizzik for protection. You are also tasked to find and kill an escaping Skyguard prisoner. When you’re done with this, you’re told the Sha’tari Skyguard is attempting to summon Terokk’s ancient enemies to fight you. You have to go to one of the nearby skull pile and fight Darkscreecher Akkarai after the Skyguard summon him.
After that part is done, Skizzik orders you to continue to Lower Veil Shi’lak (2 on Skettis map) and disperses into a dark cloud and in this form, flies there himself. You follow the quest and see the arakkoa down there engaged in battle with Skyguard forces. As Skizzik tells you, the Skyguard grows bolder every day and now, they begin attacking Skettis with regular armies. You kill the attacking Skyguard forces and take their insignia, as well as gather some reagents from the local water furies – Skizzik needs them for a yet undescribed ritual. Somewhere during this part, you find a shadowy, talking kaliri. The kaliri informs you that the Skyguard found a way to detect the phased out Talonpriests and they have now captured Talonpriest Ishaal. At your new imaginary friend’s insistence, you find captured Ishaal before he can be killed and free him. When you return to Skizzik, he dismisses your visions of shadowy kaliri but thanks you for freeing Ishaal anyway. As a last task here, you are told to fight another of Terokk’s ancient enemies that the Skyguard summoned while you were freeing Ishaal. This time you fight Karrog and upon dealing with him, the Talonpriests direct you to Veil Harr’ik, south of Blackwind Lake.
At Veil Harr’ik (3) the situation is still peaceful, so the Talonpriests want you to go into the wild part of the area and gather some supplies. While you’re out there picking worms and berries, the shadowy kaliri appears again. This time, he tells you about the plight of the local wild kaliri, hunted by the cats. It’s eat or be eaten so the kaliri wants you to kill the cats. It follows you around as you do that and with every cat killed, a flock of young kaliri appears and cleans the cat to the bones in a few seconds. When you’re done with that, you return to hear the Talonpriests upset about the Skyguard summoning another of adversarial bloodlines. This time you have to deal with Gezzarak the Huntress, who killed some of the arakkoa near the skull pile. When you’re done, the Talonpriests move to another place, following the sounds of violence.
At Veil Ala’rak (4) you see the Skyguard attacking again. This time, your first quest here has you kill an attacking Ogri’la ally who drops a missive. In that missive, you learn the Skyguard is preparing a full-out attack meant to destroy Skettis once and for all. You once again go around, find and kill spies in the veil, as well as feed the kaliri and arm the local arakkoa. When you’re done with these tasks, you hear the Skyguard summoned the last of Terokk’s ancient enemies, Vakkiz the Windrager. You deal with it, but while you do it, the shadowy kaliri once again leads you to a hut where Talonpriest Zellek is wounded by the recent attack. You and the kaliri heal him, and he joins the other Talonpriests. When you return to them, they tell you the Skyguard attack is beginning.
The Talonpriests move the forces of Skettis to Terokk’s Rest, the central, easily defensible island. However, the Skyguard has aerial superiority and is firebombing the island. Your first task is to get on one of Skizzik’s monstrous kaliri and kill a group of Skyguard attackers. As they’re busy bombing, the best way to kill them is to sneak behind them and daze them off their mounts, sending them plummeting to the ground. You can, however, just fight them, using the kaliri’s claws. Upon dealing with that, you land in Terokk’s Rest (5) and find it under attack. You have to hold off and kill a number of the attackers. As you finish that, a cinematic begins. The shadowy kaliri finally appears to everyone and lands on Terokk’s skull pile… only to transform into Terokk himself, or rather Shade of Terokk. The shade promises you a better future for your people, if only you follow him to the realm where the Raven Lord rests. He opens a portal that you and your leaders quickly enter.
Predictably, you end up in Azeroth’s Emerald Dream, in a zone named Ravenwood, specifically in an area called the Promised Glade (number 1 on the Ravenwood map). This area greatly resembles Spires of Arak, but has an otherworldly aura and some of the trees appear to be floating mid-air. The area immediately outside the portal bears some resemblance to Terokk’s Rest itself, but without a surrounding lake. A large number of arakkoa continues to come out of the portal, looking forward to a new future. Terokk himself isn’t there, but the Talonpriests are ready to give you more quests and explain where you are and how you got here. They tell you that Terokk disappeared immediately after going through the portal, and Zellek believes you are supposed to prove your worth now by surviving in this new land. Where are you? They don’t know exactly, but they speculate it’s some kind of spiritual realm where their dreams are coming true.
Your first quests deal with establishing a settlement. You kill the local wildlife for food and chop down some trees, which leads to your first angry fey spawning at you. Pixies appear and don’t understand what you are or why you’re harming the nature but they want to stop you at all costs. You just kill the pixies and bring the dust they disperse into to the Talonpriests, so that they can use it in their rituals. They’re perplexed by these strange creatures and wonder what is this realm Terokk brough you into, but they continue nevertheless. After you’re done establishing the settlement, you are sent to the next section.
Your first quest in the Whistling Meadow (2) is to find Reshad who was lost while scouting out this area. You find Reshad huddled under a tree, being assaulted by a Keeper of the Grove. After you kill the Keeper, the main universe Reshad, much more cynical and angry than the one from Draenor, tells you off for being so late and wants you to help identifying any remnants of a past civilization in this area. It looks remarkably plain, but Reshad is convinced there must have been some kind of civilization here. You follow around, killing more fey and gathering evidence, until you find some shimmering magical essence. Reshad casts a spell, and a spectral version of Sentinel Hill appears. After continuing his rituals, you fully enter this layer of the Emerald Dream, finding a phased in version of Sentinel Hill where a single, nameless guard is flexing his muscles and all the female humans are fawning over him. Reshad figures this out – you’re in Azeroth’s Emerald Dream, and you just entered this guard’s dream. Unfortunately for him, the dream quickly turns into a nightmare, as the women turn into angry gnolls and the guard runs away in fear. You help Reshad kill the nightmare manifestations, but find the guard transformed and have to kill him as well. That brings you out of his dream and back in the regular layer of the Dream.
The Talonpriests arrive and question Reshad and you what took you so long. Reshad explains what he found out about this place, but they don’t want to hear it. They continue to chastise him and want everyone to follow them into a new area where they can continue their quest. This is when you go into the Maddening Meadow (3). This area looks very similar to the previous one, but is instead very shadowy and the fey there are corrupted by a nightmarish influence, and the trees are covered in thorns. The Talonpriests like this place better but prefer to dominate the shadowy creatures. You help them kill or dominate them, until a more powerful force arrives – a sect of satyrs detected your presence and is trying to kill you. After a successful first strike, a powerful satyr, Prince Menax, arrives and offers you an alliance instead. He says his father, the Albino and the leader of the satyrs, sees great potential in you and invites you to join him in spreading the Nightmare. Talonpriest Zellek decides to follow Menax to the satyr homeland of Xaxarin and you’re left in Ravenwood.
While waiting for Zellek’s return, you’re sent with a few other minor characters to the nearby “Unhappy Hunting Grounds” (4). These are filled with magical animals that will be perfect to feed your people. Unfortunately, while you’re hunting the beasts, you’re attacked by a strange, spectral hunter who thinks you’re some kind of new nightmare. After killing him, you bring his essence to Talonpriest Skizzik. Skizzik doesn’t recognize what you’re dealing with, but knowing it’s an enemy of the Nightmare, he wants you to kill these creatures. These are of course the Wild Hunt, and this area is their sacred hunting ground. You continue to fight them, until you push them to the passage to the next area, where you’re surprised by a powerful huntsman of a vrykul stature. He stuns you and is about to kill you when Zellek suddenly returns, transformed. He’s now an arakkrai, and the Nightmare has given him new wings and a more corrupted, warped body. Zellek easily kills the specter with his new powers and delivers the news – the Nightmare’s ultimate master, N’Zoth, is also Anzu’s new master and the Old God they turned to since Sethe’s demise in the shattering of Draenor. The Talonpriests embrace the Nightmare, while Reshad is deeply troubled by this development.
You proceed into the Talon Court (5), which you find mostly inhabited by good fey, including shay, grells and harpies. However, Zellek and his new arakkrai want you to change it. You invade the building, woven from the wood without harming it, and kill or corrupt the local fey into nightmarish versions. Eventually, you proceed into its central hall and use a special ritual to summon the Shade of Terokk, who takes residence in this area. The Talonpriests think you’re done here but you get a telepathic request to meet someone outside. There, hidden in a corner is Ravenpriest Verroak (yes, my character) who tells you that he met Reshad and they’re both concerned about the turn this is taking. Verroak doesn’t even believe this is real Terokk and has you gather some herbs for a potion. He cooks up a potion and sends you to pour it onto the Shade of Terokk. When you do it, the Shade warps into a nightwalker briefly, and the Talonpriests are notably miffed. But they’re not angry they’ve been deceived – they think you attacked the Talon-King himself and want your head. That’s when Verroak pops in again (complaining he isn’t getting paid enough) and carries you out just in time.
You continue towards Ruaanin Canyon (6), which resembles the Pools of Sethe. There, you find a group of arakkoa that remain friendly to you. At the head of them is Kirrik the Awakened who explains he’s the last, exiled Talonpriest. He went into a self-imposed exile years ago when visions of the Light from the Naaru A’dal awakened his true calling. From then on, he knew the future of arakkoa lies not in the shadows but in the Light – and corrupted Anzu, fake Terokk and the Talonpriests are leading your people into the exact opposite of their only hope for salvation. You are now sent by Kirrik, Rilak and others to try to mend your relationship with nature. You pick off nightmarish weeds, you water the plants and heal the critters. At the end, the area begins regrowing and resembling the other uncorrupted parts of the zone. But then, the arakkrai find you and you have to fend off their attack. Finally, Zellek himself descends on you and only with Rilak’s and Verroak’s help you defeat the monster. Kirrik knows you can’t stay here and must continue towards the way out of the Emerald Dream.
In the next area, Dream Spires (7) you find another settlement of arakkoa. Rilak’s faction wants you to approach and help them, while telling them of what’s truly going on with their leaders. Here, you find Reshad who is willing to listen to you and what the Exiles told you about. In order to mend fences between the Exiles, the common people of Skettis and the Dream, you help the arakkoa to build new settlements that don’t damage the nature. At the end, Kirrik arrives to talk to Reshad, but he gets ambushed by assassins in the employ of Ishaal. You have to fight Talonpriest Ishaal while Kirrik is stunned and poisoned. In the end, Ishaal bows down and yields, saying he already had his doubts about what he was doing. He only needed a good reason to switch his allegiances. He believes you and wants to join you, but you now have a new problem – Kirrik is poisoned and will die soon unless you do something.
You continue to the next area, the Court of Whims (8). Here, you find a group of outcast, capricious fey who are not part of either Seelie Court, Unseelie Court or the Nightmare (gameplay-wise, associated with Trickster Court reputation faction). You arrive with Rilak, Ishaal, Reshad, Verroak and wounded Kirrik at this court and ask the fey to help you heal Kirrik. They don’t want to help you for two reasons – because you have a reputation for fighting good fey, and because they don’t feel like it. You have to run a few errands for them, including traditional quests as well as running around in a frilly dress and delivering drinks to pixies and kitsunes. In the end, the local pixie queen purges the poison from Kirrik who gets back on his feet. With this done, you thank the fey and continue on the path Kirrik promised.
Unfortunately, the next area, the Dread Roost (9) has been taken up by Skizzik and his nightmarish birds. He reigns from a tall spire at the north of this area, and is surrounded by kaliri and dread ravens. The only path to salvation leads through these, so you have to fight the creatures. Rilak knows dread ravens are nearing extinction in the real world so he wants you to save a few eggs as well. Verroak on the other hand, wants you to pick apart their nests and deliver the materials to him for a fair price. After you’re done dealing your damage, Skizzik arrives, riding a dread raven. His mount attacks Ishaal and picks him up in his talons, as Skizzik promises to punish the traitor. The mount flies off with Ishaal in its talons (leaving Ishaal’s fate unknown for now) and the Talonpriest himself lands and attacks you. You fight him, but before you can kill him, he summons Anzu himself to his help. Verroak here does his help to kite Anzu around while you’re damaging him. In the end, Anzu flies off to recuperate with the other nightmare gods.
Upon dealing with Skizzik and Anzu, you finally emerge into the last area of this zone, Verdant Outskirt (10). As the arakkoa prepare to get away from the Emerald Dream, you are attacked by the remaining forces still loyal to the fake Terokk. You rescue your people and their goods and help them evacuate towards the dream portal. One of your more important tasks here is not killing the commanders, but beating them down to a certain health amount and convincing them to follow your cause. Some defect, but some prefer to die rather than betray Terokk. Finally, your last quest requires you to defend the portal until all the arakkoa leave the Dream. This includes fighting more arakkoa, arakkrai and satyr mobs, as well as nightmarish bodaks, the servants of the fake Terokk. There are also vehicles that help you in fighting the attackers. In the end, “Terokk” himself appears and is stripped of his guise by Kirrik. But the nightwalker doesn’t care, he is certain he will kill you all anyway. Kirrik knows the monster is too powerful to be fought right now and orders you and all his allies to go through the portal – he will hold the line.
Upon going through the dream portal, a cinematic plays. All the remaining arakkoa, including Reshad and Verroak, cross the portal as the nightwalker closes in. Rilak and Kirrik remain last, with Kirrik channeling a protective spell. Rilak wants Kirrik to go with him, but Kirrik refuses – using the last of his power to defeat the monster is the only way to ensure the safety of their people. Rilak doesn’t know what he’ll do without Kirrik and says he won’t know how to lead their people, but Kirrik believes in him – after all, he did just fine when Kirrik was poisoned. Finally, Rilak leaves and Kirrik is left alone with the encroaching monster. The nightwalker taunts the arakkoa that he doesn’t have the power to defeat him, but Kirrik says he does – invoking the power of all the good arakkoa who died opposing the real Terokk, the fake Terokk, and all the other evil gods that oppressed the arakkoa people for centuries. But no more, he says, will his people bow before false gods. With the death of both of them, the arakkoa will be free again, forever. Kirrik explodes into light that forms into kaliri-shaped creatures of light which burn away the monster into nothing but dust. They’re both gone.
When the cinematic ends, you find yourself in the Twilight Grove in Duskwood where the arakkoa built a small veil. Here, just outside the portal, Rilak is kneeling on the pedestal leading to it. He ends your last quest, quoting that he felt Kirrik’s sacrifice and he knows he’s now the leader of the arakkoa people. He doesn’t yet know where his leadership will lead them, but he promises to do what he can to honor Kirrik’s memory. He gives you the last quest that sends you to report to Varian Wrynn and pledge your allegiance to the Alliance. You can question his decision, but he answers that since he’s now the leader, he has to make difficult decisions and he always felt the Alliance was closer to the Light and the promised future Kirrik told him about. Before you go, you can set your hearth here, or sell some stuff, or visit a bank – it’s a functional mini-capital similar to Bilgewater Harbor. And it of course contains the Tower of Krasha, where Archdruid Verroak can be found, and his minions are selling potions or training you in alchemy. Varian welcomes your people into the Alliance and says that with the recent developments, like the Wild Hunt attacking the waking world, your people will be perfect new allies.
And this is the end of the arakkoa starting experience. I hope you enjoyed it even without too much graphical aid. Next time, we will reconvene for the other racial starting zone, Thornbranch, the satyr starting experience – taking very different turns and introducing a lot of new characters. See you soon.