Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bugs, Mr. Rico! Zillions Of 'Em!

One of the things I most like about playing on Earthen Ring's Alliance side is that it has the best-developed network of cross-guild contacts for pickup events I've seen anywhere in WoW. Yesterday I took advantage of it to join in some spur-of-the-moment visits to old raid instances. Here are pictures from Ahn'Qiraj.

Knowing that I have non-WoW-playing readers, here's the scene...

Kalimdor is the western continent on Azeroth, and not nearly so extensively settled as the Eastern Kingdoms. There's more room for stuff to be lurking hither and yon. At the south end of the Barrens there's a couple hives of mysterious bug-like creatures identified as silithids. They're a good challenge for characters of level 18-20 or so. Bigger, more complicated hives turn up in more zones characters go to in the 20s through upper 40s or low 50s: in the Shimmering Flats desert part of Thousand Needles, deep in the tropical forests of Feralas, and in the titan-preserved ancient wilderness inside Un'Goro Crater. Clues come together.

Back in the ancient days, one of the elder gods, C'thun, had its lair in the southwest corner of Kalimdor, in what was then lush forest. One of the titans fought it to the mutual death, or so it seemed. Alas, it's hard to get rid of elder gods. C'thun made avatars of itself in the Qiraji, an other-dimensional race of semi-humanoid insect creatures, and used them to direct an army of silithids. The Barrens silithids are a few feet long and a couple feet high; the ones used in the invasion of what's now called Silithus were (and are) huge. A thousand years ago their armies built up a fortress at the south end of the zone where C'thun fell, and called it Ahn'Qiraj. From there they headed north, sweeping everything ahead of them until an alliance of all the sentient races on Kalimdor at the time turned them back. The gates were sealed up, a watch set, and a thousand years passed.

One of the big, big events in the tail end of "vanilla WoW", as we hip veterans call the time before release of the first expansion back, was the return of the silithids and Qiraji in force. A fascinating spread of cross-faction quests and challenges culminated in the re-opening of the gates of Ahn'Qiraj to let adventurers take on the newly reinvigorated challenges behind. The ruins of Ahn'Qiraj is a 20-person raid instance, the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj, with C'thun waiting in its depths, a raid for 40 people.

In roleplaying terms, this was a special bit of fun for me. Spiderheart had some of her best moments as tank and off-tank in AQ20 (the Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj, that is) but never got past the first boss in AQ40 (the Temple). Then she went off to Outland, and died, and came back undead, and is now carving a new place for herself. This was a chance to revisit old glories and help put a spoke in the wheels of the silithid effort to make a fresh comeback while everyone's busy with things through the Dark Portal and up in Northrend.

This is a good sample of Silithus scenery, with one of the several hives that dot the wasteland:

Spi - Silithus hive.jpg

The Gates of Ahn'Qiraj, seen on the approach:

Spi - Gates of Ahn'Qiraj.jpg

The courtyard behind them, looking back the way Spiderheart came in. showing the funky silithid mix of Egyptian-ish elements and gratuitous magic like floating spires:

Spi - AQ Courtyard.jpg

Inside the Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj, with some of the Alien-esque massive chitin and other extrusions on display:

Spi - Near Kurinaxx.jpg

Here we are putting the boot in on General Rajaxx, who led the big fight a thousand years back, and ripped apart the only son of night elf Archdruid Staghelm along the way:

Spi - Rajaxx.jpg

I mentioned earlier about the big bugs. Here's a typical pack of them, in the process of being squished by us. Overhead there's a druid's thunder cloud with lightning zorching down on the left. On the ground, at least two death knights' Death & Decay area-effect cursing and a paladin's Consecrate holy damage spell compete for pixels. Whole lotta squishin' goin' on:

Spi - silithids.jpg

AQ has another of my very favorite monsters, a race straight out of Babylonian carvings. This is their leader, Moam:

Spi - Moam.jpg

And then there are the Anubisaths. Here's one now, walking somewhat like an Egyptian:

Spi - Anubisaths.jpg

And here it is up close and personal:

Spi - Anubisath.jpg

Ossirian the Unscarred is the commander of all the forces in the ruins. Here he is in mid-fight...

Spi - Ossirian Up.jpg

...and at its conclusion:

Spi - Ossirian Down.jpg

And that's about enough pictures for one post, so I'll cover AQ40 and BWL later.