Shaman, WoW

The story corner

Only one event in WoW has ever come close to inspiring me to write what might be considered fan fiction (or RP), and even then what I felt I had to try was to dramatically convey an actual “scene” from the game in story form.  That is, it’s a fairly accurate description of something that actually happened in-game, but dressed up as a story from the perspectives of the characters rather than the players.

Um, where was I?

Oh yes: that event was the infamous Zombie Invasion.

I know opinions about it were pretty mixed but I thought it was a thoroughly fantastic event in pretty much every way… except perhaps the somewhat anticlimactic conclusion.  But it was just great fun and totally different to anything I’d done in WoW and gave my friends (and our alts especially) a chance to fecklessly muck about in some of our favourite locations with the brand new abilities of the pre-Wrath of the Lich King patch and a great lore/story background thing.

The sheer epicness of some of the zombie encounters and the spontaneity of how they happened and who they involved was enough to make me dust off my metaphorical pen after several years hiatus.  After several abortive attempts I came up with the following.

I won’t waste your time with disclaimers or embarrassed, self-deprecatory excuses because you’ll waste enough of it reading what follows anyway.

(It’s called “Ironforge was clear of zombies” because that was the first sentence I wrote in the first ‘draft’.  Names have been slightly changed to pretend to protect the innocent.)

Ironforge was clear of zombies

Trees swaying in the wind…

Waves lapping on the shore…

Clouds swirling in the sky…

And fire, fire roaring in the circle of earth and stone…

Kaiah opened her eyes.

Could Ironforge finally be cleansed?  Since she had arrived earlier that day, the shaman had done nothing but battle a constant seethe of the undead, swarming without warning from deep places in the city.  Battle after running battle, pitched fight following determined hunt, desperate charge from overwhelming rush – but the hordes were defeated, now, at last.  The underground streets of the great dwarf city were strewn with the horrid festering corpse-shells.

Trees, swaying in the wind…

Mounted on a great mistsaber, surveying the stony dwellings built into the structure of the inner mountainside as she passed, Kaiah rode along the defensive trench.  There were survivors to tend to and victims to restore – but the shaman was tired, weary.  Sweat slicked the scales of her Avalanche Kilt, grime flecked the ornaments of her intricate Pauldrons of the Furious Elements; she drew a hand across her brow and sighed, shutting her eyes again.

Waves lapping on the shore…

What was that?  That sound, that horribly familiar sound!  Muffled and dim, coming from the doorway ahead.  The sign above it read Ironforge Inn.

No!  Not the inn… not again!  NO.  “Feta Vie Akahachi!” raised her battle cry.  The shaman leaped from her mount, tail swaying behind her, shield on her arm, dagger in her hand, sparks on her fingers!  Surging through the air, flying through the door in the same leap, her hooves came to rest on the solid stone floor of the room beyond…

ZOMBIES.

LOTS of zombies.  Uh oh.  Bad bad bad.  Swarming at her – how were there so many in this tiny space, how had she only heard what sounded like one?  No sign of anything living, just zombies wall to wall.  Clawing at her, biting at her mail gauntlets and sleeves and—

Clouds swirling in the sky.  Dark clouds, thick with rain; angry clouds, warm with thunder.

THWCRACK!

The surge of noise and energy startled even her, the cloying undead thrown back by the force of the sudden explosion of thunder.

But the room was tiny: there was simply nowhere for the enemies to go.  Thrown hard against the seamless rock walls by her spell, they just shook their mindless heads and lurched back at her.  The way behind was blocked, there were too many to fight.  She noted vaguely but with alarm that her forearm was already scratched.

She was infected.

Stairs!  The stairs ahead were almost clear, moreso at least than the rest of her surroundings.  Shouldering hard against the walking corpses ahead, Kaiah pushed towards the narrow staircase and bounded up it two steps at a time, legs straining against her kilt.  She scattered zombies as she went, but they grabbed at her and bit at her.

The cramped balcony above was already filled with zombies.  The railing was cluttered and obscured with festive ornamentations.  She was infected in multiple wounds now, the Plague seeping through her body, turning her, taking her over.

Crashing through the undead corpses, she launched herself over the railing and to the street below.  Her fingers weaved around a decorated totem pulled from her garments as she landed, casting a cleansing spell and driving the wood into the rock, causing it to pulse with a cleansing power.  She was seconds away from succumbing.  No time for a wave of healing power.  No energy for another thunderstorm.  She mouthed incantations of cleansing as she stumbled forward, fingers weaving in enchantment, every spellcast resisted by the virulent infection within.  Zombies pouring out from the building mere yards behind her, their cries now loud and angry.

Someone in the inn must have been infected, and it had somehow gone unnoticed after the battle.  And everyone who had come into contact had been infected too, and called to the side of the first, and huddled into that tight space as the disease overtook them and stole their wills to become mindless, slavering servants of the Lich King…

Fire.  Fire roaring on a hearth of stone and earth…  A fiery beard in the mountain firelight…

A hoarse cry of relief and desperation from her own mouth: “Donegal!”

The stocky dwarf paladin on his armored charger swept towards her, reflected fire in his eyes catching the tint of his red beard and braids.  In a smooth motion he dismounted and came to rest.  His cleansing power added to her own and she felt the disease finally beaten back, life-power surging through her as his rough dwarven hand met her upper arm.  And then the zombies reached her—

A devastating explosion of holy wrath weaved around and through the hapless undead, cleaving rotting skin from sallow bone, dropping the swarm in its tracks.  Kaiah did not waste an instant.  With a quick “there are more inside!” for the paladin’s gruff “aye,” she stepped behind her stout friend into the hated doorway and her fingers crackled with electricity.

Clouds swirling in the sky…

CRRSSHAM.  Lightning pounded from her fingertips and crackled through the tiny room as Donegal’s chant of consecration lit the walls in a glow of holy energy.  Once again the battle was on.

You know, I found my old TBC gear and mount and carefully set up this awesome authentic looking TBC-esque screenshot and you can’t actually see any of the gear I’m wearing anyway.

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Discussion

5 thoughts on “The story corner

  1. I had a long comment written out about why this doesn’t really click for me (basically it came down to: it has nothing to do with the writing, but I guess I find it difficult to appreciate fan fiction in general for whatever reason), but instead I will just say that it’s always interesting to witness emergent storytelling in MMO’s.

    One of the big debates in (middle-to highbrow) popular videogame literature at the moment is the one about narrative, and how best to tell stories through videogames. MMO’s are in a unique position to provide a canvas for players to paint their personal stories onto. I think there’s a lot to be said about the untapped potential in that regard (WoW stimulates it very little due to its fairly static world and very directed nature), which is why it’s so cool to see an event like the zombie invasion. It’s even cooler to see it actually having an effect and people being motivated by it to tell their own stories.

    Posted by Razz | June 8, 2010, 12:18 am
    • The above is the only time I’ve ever come *close* to wanting to write something about WoW, which is weird because when I used to play Star Wars games as part of an old semi-RP internet gaming club I wrote a lot of stories involving the characters of myself, my friends and others in the game club. Those stories were never based around actual in-game events (or in-chat RP either). The only one that was I never completed because I couldn’t convey the excitement of what happened in-game in a convincing way in the story. But nonetheless the settings the games provided and the characters our clubbers inhabited provided plenty of inspiration for a whole series of fanfics by myself and others which were gobbled up by fellow members because they were about us.

      So, I actually don’t really like the very short piece above – I don’t think it’s very well-written, I think the tone is still wide of what I’d like to have aimed for (it’s melodramatic and cheesy) and there’s no real reason to read it except out of pure interest. Entirely self-indulgent drivel! But I did enjoy the act of trying to “get inside” the WoW universe and think of how characters might see a situation, and even though I don’t think it’s a very good story I am glad I tried at least once (and would encourage others to try too!).

      Ultimately I think you’re right that WoW doesn’t really encourage that sort of written storytelling that some other settings do. (The degree to which it encourages live RP is also debatable.) But perhaps that’s just me being a killjoy 8-)

      Thanks for the comment :)

      Posted by Charles | June 8, 2010, 12:31 am
  2. Nice!

    I think wow can inspire a lot of good stories, it has very deep fantasy elements.

    And that was the best event ever, by far. I was new to the game at that time, and that was an amazing proof of how WOW is an incredible social experience/experiment.

    The Devs came up with an idea, and simply put some infection ways into the game. In a matter of hours, Azeroth was all zombies. That’s the players changing their world as they please, and of course, creating their own stories

    Posted by Hexlol | June 8, 2010, 4:32 pm
  3. Ah, the zombie invasion…perhaps the most fun I’ve ever had playing WoW. It was exactly what was needed during that pre-WoTLK lull, in my opinion.

    Here’s hoping for an equally-as-fun pre-Cata event! :) Not on PTR so I haven’t checked out the Gnomeregan/Echo Isles stuff.

    Posted by Kazgrel | June 9, 2010, 7:21 pm
  4. The sad thing about the zombie invasion is that some folks actually found it very, er, “invasive” and disruptive and really seriously resented it. We could tar them all as killjoys and haters, but I suspect that for folks who were enjoying stuff like levelling, playing the AH, gearing up their first character etc. it may well have been a bit of a bridge too far.

    Which is a shame because it was a really enjoyable event for those of us just killing time until WotLK. (As the story above illustrates.) I still think they ended it earlier than they wanted to for that reason, though it’s really hard to tell.

    It was the closest WoW’s really gotten to a true sandbox environment though.

    Posted by Charles | June 11, 2010, 12:56 am

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