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Fossil Fragments: Clues to the Past, Reminders of Mortality

May 12, 2011

Huge, huge thanks to Ilaniel, who wrote her dissertation on turtles, for helping me with the paleontology bits!

Fossils in Azeroth appear to be a product of verisimilitude instead of lorecrafting. With so many parallels to paleontology out-of-game, how do Fossils hold up within Azeroth? There’s a bit of a disconnect as the player discovers Fossil artifacts because they’re neither linked to a playable race (Draenei, Dwarf, Night Elf, Orc, Troll) or one integral to questlines (Nerubian, Vrykul, Tol’vir). At first, fossil fragments come across as a fun filler, a race that thankfully had an ilvl 359 shield and some rare pets added. In researching this article for an angle, I was reminded of the last few couplets of Ogden Nash’ poem “Next!”:

Amid the megalosauric wassail

I caught the eye of one small fossil.

Cheer up, old man, he said, and winked-

It’s kind of fun to be extinct.

Fossils are also the pre-history of Azeroth, an important time that the Explorer’s League feels compelled to preserve through their museum in Ironforge and expeditions. They remind the player of a time before their race existed, let alone the current political squabbles. In a world where players are meant to feel somewhat integral to Azeroth (see Ilaniel’s excellent post!) this is a sobering thought: Azeroth will continue to grow and change, regardless of your own involvement. On Earth, life as we know it now makes up less than 1% of all species. The fossils lying in the fields are monuments to extinction—your player, your race, your achievements will have the same fate.

Valley of Bones, Desolace

As I described in my earlier post on museums, the Explorer’s League maintains a museum featuring fossils and other artifacts from their excavation projects, such as Uldaman. It’s a traditional 19th-century museum, with stodgy curatorial notes relating artifacts to current research projects and cultural propaganda. It’s a safe hypothesis to say that the Explorer’s League is responsible for classifying most fossil fragments, as they’re the only group that’s expressed interest in preserving them (unlike most of Azeroth, which takes pleasure in blowing up the past). They’re not perfect though: they have recent bones from the Battle of Grim Batol classified as fossils, imprecise dating methods, and a belief that fossils are easily found in rich soil. (As I learned from Ilaniel, the best sites to create a fossil are not the best sites to find fossils in. Fossils get buried quickly in lush areas with water, but are easiest to dig up in desert areas.)

As for the actual digsites in WoW, it’s a mixed bag with regards to accuracy. The process of fossilization occurs when remains are quickly buried, the bone minerals replaced by rock minerals over thousands of years. As such, areas prone to flooding in ancient times make excellent fossil beds because water is an effective agent at burying remains—if the remains are not buried, they will be eroded and scavenged. This also explains why there are many more fossils for invertebrates (organisms without backbones) and aquatic vertebrates (e.g. fish) then there are of land vertebrates (land animals). However, when one wants to dig a fossil up, an area with rich soil and vegetation is a hinderance because there isn’t much exposed earth.  As such, the fossil digsites in Tanaris, Blasted Lands, Desolace, and Burning Steppes are ideal digsites, while the Un’Goro and Plagueland digsites are less plausible and more time-consuming. And in general, the half-exposed fossils are impractical although visually dramatic: they’d erode quickly and leaving them behind would be unheard-of at a digsite.

Tanaris digsite: Most plausible digsite save for the eroding exposed bones

Like Earth, Azeroth began as a unified landmass. The in-game book The Old Gods and the Ordering of Azeroth describes the formation of Kalimdor as follows:

The Titans empowered a number of races to help them fashion the world. To help them carve out the fathomless caverns beneath the earth, the Titans created the dwarf-like earthen from magical, living stone. To help them dredge out the seas and lift the land from the sea floor, the Titans created the immense but gentle sea giants. For many ages the Titans moved and shaped the earth, until at last there remained one perfect continent. At the continent’s center, the Titans crafted a lake of scintillating energies. The lake, which they named the Well of Eternity, was to be the fount of life for the world. Its potent energies would nurture the bones of the world and empower life to take root in the land’s rich soil. Over time, plants, trees, monsters, and creatures of every kind began to thrive on the primordial continent. As twilight fell on the final day of their labors, the Titans named the continent Kalimdor: “land of eternal starlight”.

There is evidence to suggest that Azeroth’s evolution took a similar trajectory to that of Earth’s, albeit a bit accelerated if Azeroth has only existed for 147,000 years. In addition, the Titans had a magical hand in speeding up evolution, creating plants, humans, and animals to populate their planets. Artifacts such as the Vicious Ancient Fish and Ancient Shark Jaws allude to a time where oceans covered most of the planet, an equivalent to Earth’s Panthalassa, a vast global ocean. Over time, plant life sprung up in tropical climates, as seen in the Beautiful Preserved Fern and Shard of Petrified Wood. Current equivalent climates would be Tanaris and Stranglethorn Vale: sandy, bordered by water, with palm trees. Some artifacts parallel those found on Earth: the Black Trilobite, Twisted Ammonite Shell, and Strange Velvet Worm. Of course, there are differences such as the presence of living dinosaurs in Un’Goro crater, but we can safely say that most fossil fragments are thousands of years old.

Instead of tectonic plates slowly drifting apart, as on Earth, the landmass of Kalimdor was violently shattered during the Sundering 10,000 years ago, splitting the continent in two. The Sundering of the World describes it as:

As the aftershocks from the Well’s implosion rattled the bones of the world, the seas rushed in to fill the gaping wound left in the earth. Nearly eighty percent of Kalimdor’s landmass had been blasted apart, leaving only a handful of separate continents surrounding the new, raging sea. At the center of the new sea, where the Well of Eternity once stood, was a tumultuous storm of tidal fury and chaotic energies.

As a fossil is loosely categorized as a preserved specimen over 10,000 years old, one may assume that all fossil fragments on Azeroth reflected life on Kalimdor before the Sundering. The resulting continental split explains why vestiges of fossils are found on Eastern Kingdoms in addition to Kalimdor. Many fossils were undoubtably lost in the earthquake and resulting maelstrom, as well as damaged in the climate changes.

Strangely enough, the artifacts that are from extinct species carry the least monetary value in Azeroth. The Vicious Ancient Fish, Twisted Ammonite Shell, and Black Trilobite all vendor for 1g; while small trilobites commercially sell for cheap amounts, large trilobites and the other fossils would fetch a much heftier sum IRL. Their flavor texts still reveal an interested in paleontology, as they feature accurate details. “Myths persist of living trilobites of supposedly epic proportions” describes the Black Trilobite, and in fact, ancient trilobites on Earth appeared in a variety of sizes, some up to a meter long.  The Vicious Ancient Fish is labeled as followed, “There are those who believe that oceans once covered all of the continents, allowing fish fossils to be found in locations hundreds of miles inland,” and it’s easy to believe that was once the case seeing how susceptible Thousand Needles and the Wetlands were to flooding after the Shattering. While archaeologists on Earth would find this fascinating, perhaps those on Azeroth do not because of their self-centered values in a time of glory and war. They’re more interested in artifacts that can shed light on the current battles or some perceived cultural superiority. Curatorial notes for artifacts at the Ironforge Museum praise the efforts of the  alliance in the second war (Horde catapult), the scientific prowess of the Night Elves (Highborne Astrolabe), the craftsmanship of the ancient dwarves (Uldaman relics), and the endurance of the dwarven animals (Toothgnasher’s Skeleton).

Earthen Vases and Highborne Globe at the Ironforge Museum

The Devilsaur Toothand Feathered Raptor Arm are both artifacts that are based in paleontology facts but are a bit different because close descendants are currently thriving on Azeroth, as opposed to their extinct counterparts on Earth. The Feathered Raptor Arm is a nod to the paleo theory that birds evolved from therapod dinosaurs: “Among the Explorers’ League, there are those who believe that birds are descended from dinosaurs such as this raptor. The feathers suggest some kind of missing link between the two different kinds of animals. Alternatively, this creature could just be one of the many strange monsters which infest Azeroth.” Raptors can be found in several zones, notably Stranglethorn Vale, and collectors heavily prize the in-game vanity raptors. The Devilsaur Tooth (also formerly a hunter trinket reward) alludes to how species adapt and physically change through millennia: “Devilsaurs are among the largest predators to ever walk Azeroth. While most died out long ago, some thrive in isolated pockets to this day. There is much speculation about the purpose of the devilsaur’s degenerate front arms. One theory is that they help Devilsaurs rise to a standing position; another theory suggests that the arms titillate females. More observation is necessary.” The arms of Tyrannosaurus rex, the most obvious comparison to the Devilsaur have long been an area for discussion along similar lines: as a means for grasping mates, standing up, or grasping mealtime prey. In addition to the arms, the Devilsaur draws comparisons with T-Rex for its imposing persona. New players are terrified of the stomping Devilsaurs when first visiting Un’Goro. Taming rare devilsaurs was a sign of prestige for hunters and their leather was used for well-itemized gear in vanilla. Thankfully, enterprising corners of Azeroth (goblins, the Darkmoon Faire) have left the devilsaurs in peace instead of exploiting them as tourist attractions.

Devilsaur Queen

Turtles are another species that have both roots in paleontology and fanciful roles in Warcraft. (Ilaniel tells me that the flavor text for the Extinct Turtle Shell is mostly accurate, save for the tripartite categorization.) In Warcraft, players ride turtle mounts fished up from pools or from the Trading Card Game, kill turtles for their scales for armor, obtain vanity turtle pets, and interact with Tortolla, the turtle demigod. The Extinct Turtle Shell has the same model as several other shields, most notably Kresh’s Back, from the lumbering turtle in Wailing Caverns. Goblins use turtles as mounts and in the second war, Orcs used turtles as underwater war vehicles. As a hunter pet, turtles have the ability Shell Shield, which reduces damage taken. In this context, it’s unsurprising that turtles would once again be repurposed for combat.

Tortolla in Hyjal

An item of some interest to the Explorer’s League is the Proto-Drake Skeleton, vending for 20g. Proto-drakes served as the model for many Northrend-era mount rewards, bulkier and stronger than traditional dragons on Azeroth. They share visual similarities to Azerothian Pterrodaxxes, but are only found in the wild on Northrend. The flavor text describes proto-drakes negatively as “generally bestial and display none of the great intelligence and wisdom of true dragons,” yet they have served as mounts for the Argent Crusade in Icecrown and the Vrykul in Howling Fjord. It is stated that the Titans created these flawed dragons from “Galakrond, a massive proto-drake whose remains can still be seen in the Dragonblight” and further research reveals that the Titans created the later, more intelligent dragons that habit Azeroth currently, displeased with their initial efforts.  This tale echoes Zeus’ displeasure with the human race, in which he wishes to wipe them out and begin afresh, yet is thwarted by Prometheus’ efforts.

Bones of Galakrond: highly fantastical digsite

The Imprint of a Kraken Tentacle is exceedingly valuable to the Explorers’ League, vendoring for 200g. The flavor text reads, “These gigantic squid are servants of Neptulon the Tidehunter and normally dwell in the Abyssal Maw and not on Azeroth. The fact that this imprint is fossilized in ancient stone suggests that the mighty creatures have been visiting this world for millennia.” Neptulon, the most powerful of the Elemental Lords (a powerful group that led the armies of the Old Gods against the Titans), plays a large role in the lore of Vash’jir as he is the ruler of the water. Throughout the zone, the players learn of the terrible attacks the naga, Queen Azshara’s followers, are planning and try to thwart them by defending Neptulon. The quest arc ends with Neptulon retreating and later reappearing in Throne of the Tides, in which Ozumat kidnaps him. The presence of Kraken Tentacles outside of Vash’jir is exciting because before Cataclysm, Neptulon was a mysterious force, assumed to lurk in the Abysmal Maw. With these tentacles, there is proof that Neptulon was involved on Azeroth, possibly to keep tabs on Ragnaros, his sworn enemy, or the Faceless Ones that multiplied all over Azeroth after Cataclysm.

Neptulon’s depiction as a pseudo-ally is a radical step for Cataclysm: previously, the Old Gods and their allies were evil personified. In Wrath of the Lich King, Ulduar brought renewed interest in Titan lore: the prehistoric Titans distrusted the evil tendencies of the Old Gods and waged war, imprisoning some such as Yogg-Saron, and banishing others. C’thun and Yogg-Saron have proved to be two of the most dynamic and complex raid encounters, while players since Vanilla fought Ragnaros and killed Therazane’s daughter, Princess Theradras, in Maraudon. There were even rumors that Neptulon helped transform Queen Azshara’s followers into the naga and protecedt them. Yet in Cataclysm, some of the Elemental Lords have turned sympathetic. Neptulon is worth saving and it appears his naga have turned against him. Therazane, the Stonemother, begrudgingly helps players yet scolds them for killing her daughter.

Throne of the Tides: Neptulon's Retreat

The Explorer’s League would be especially interested in collecting fossils related to the Titans because these gods created the dwarven race, the focus of my next article. The Titans aimed to create a race, the Earthen, that would help maintain Azeroth in their absence, but the Curse of Flesh created by the defeated and bitter Old Gods thwarted some early efforts. The initial wave of Earthen transformed into vicious and slow-witted troggs, which were locked away in Uldaman. The next wave of Earthen retained their mental agility, but lost their stone skin as a result of the curse. After the Sundering, they went into hibernation for centuries and emerged with greatly reduced elemental powers. Therefore, the Explorer’s League is an organization that preserves dwarven heritage just as much as it is a place for scholarship and research. As such, curatorial notes for non-Titan fossils should be taken with a grain of salt, as the curators may not be as interested in unrelated artifacts. (This could explain the strange dating on the Tanaris eggs and Un’goro fossils!)

Some of the rare items seem superficial compared to the exacting flavor text and links to the Titans in the grey artifacts: sure, they provide the player with some fun pets and mounts, but really, a fossil coming to life? Upon closer examination of the lighthearted flavor text, the repeated use of the word “Eldritch” stands out. “Eldritch magic,” as it is called, is speculated to be the reason why your player breathes life back into rare fossil fragments. Derived from Middle English, a combination of “elf” and “kingdom,” it currently refers to something strange or unearthly and was popularized by Lovecraft in his writing. The term “Eldritch” shows up a few times in Warcraft: it’s used to describe a cloth helm, gloves and shackles associated with Myzrael (a terrible princess), and legs that drop from Prince Tortheldrin, the twisted leader of the Highborne, in Dire Maul. So, enjoy your cute pets and ride your fossilized mount proudly, but be mindful of the price you may pay for using strange magic.

Ancient Amber

I’ll conclude this analysis of archaeology fragments by looking towards the future: the Ancient Amber. The flavor text reads, “The diminutive humanoid figure trapped within this massive hunk of amber is impossible to make out, its outline seeming to waver and blur even under the most steady scrutiny. The object makes those who look into it for too long uneasy, as if some time over the past millennia the fossil had become tainted with bizarre, eldritch power.” The humanoid figure trapped in the amber is you, a fossil corrupted by your own eldritch power. It’s a metaphor for the power and skills the humanoid races have gained in the past millennia, but also puts these accomplishments in a greater perspective. In the grand scheme of Azeroth’s lifespan, the events covered in World of Warcraft are a blip on the radar. By the time of the next Shattering, you may be the next Insect in Amber, preserved with your epics in a museum.


21 Comments leave one →
  1. May 12, 2011 6:22 am

    I am somewhat surprised that fossil dig sites have not been added in Northrend. Given the presence of sites such as Bones of Galakrond, it’s a wonder why this is the case. Sholazar Basin, which highly mirrors Un’goro Crater, is the only zone in Northrend without a dig site and would no doubt be a great location for finding fossil artifacts.

  2. May 12, 2011 6:56 am

    I don’t think Neptulon is an old god though, although he is in their hierarchy.

  3. Narci permalink*
    May 12, 2011 6:58 am

    We were talking a bit about this last night, but I think it’s fascinating how little the designers have thought through some of the probably consequences of geological events in their world. For example, 147,000 years isn’t super long on earth – we were just finishing the Pleistocene era, and in the midsts of our second to last Ice Age. (The last one was only about 10,000 years ago, so they’re pretty rare on Earth.) It’s not a whole lot of time for speciation to take place, even given that most of the forms were created wholesale by the Titans, which is a common tenant among “Creationist Scientists”, especially “progressive creationists”.

    There’s also the fact that a mere 10,000 years ago, the Sundering ripped the Eastern Kingdoms half way across the globe. It’s rather difficult to think of a mechanical (rather than magical) force that could do this without either exploding the planet or utterly destroying the continent, let alone leaving Kalimdor relatively unscathed. The Sundering is portrayed in War of the Ancients as a sudden explosive uncontrolled force, rather than an engineered gentle moving, such as what happened to Dalaran.(And even the Dalaran shift created a pretty big hole.)

    10,000 years ago is no time at all in terms of continental shift, this is a wholly unprecedented move re: Earth’s history. Either we assume that half of Kalimdor was flooded (up to Azshara) and the Eastern Kingdoms rose out of the oceans, or we assume it somehow MOVED. And given that there’s common species and fossil digsites, we have to assume it was somehow just picked up and slid over by magical forces. Even if nothing else, this immense geological pressure would have destroyed the fossil records, folded landmasses, utterly changed the coastline, created unbelievable volcanic activity, and changed the climate dramatically. None of which seems to have happened, since the troll cultures were not changed very much & the fossil records survived.

    It’s interesting and a bit disappointing that the creators of WoW (some of whom do have a science background) created this very interesting piece of geological history but then didn’t follow through any of the logical consequences of the Sundering. It’s fascinating to see how they’ve taken bits of religious/creationism tenants, such as creation by the Titans, and partial misunderstandings of evolution, and combined to form a pleasantly “fantasy” but rather inexplicable lore.

  4. perculia permalink*
    May 12, 2011 7:05 am

    @Pewter I could have been clearer about it–he’s part of the Elemental Lords, which led the Old Gods’ armies back against the Titans. I think the argument still stands that they are Not Very Friendly, but I’ll edit for clarity :)

  5. May 12, 2011 7:15 am

    Loved the post! I absolutely hated Archaeology when I first leveled it (back when fossil sites were generally useless), but this (and your other post on Draenei archaeology) make me want to explore the profession again.

    I’m sure Blizzard wasn’t expecting this level of analysis from its players, but given the richness of the profession, maybe they were hoping that people would take the time to analyze and reflect on the historical significance of the artifacts and make connections between the different ages of Azeroth. Archaeology gives the ‘world’ of Warcraft much more depth, and makes it seem less stagnant temporally.

    Unfortunately, archaeology’s ‘grindy’ in-game experience made few players interested in reading the curatorial notes or flavour text on the items, but I think that you have done an excellent job providing those of us who have been less devoted to the lore a reason to go back and actually enjoy the profession (after all, I *really* don’t care about the healer trinket. Seriously. I don’t…).

    Oh, and I loved the ending of the post. Tampering with corrupting eldritch forces is risky, but many of Azeroth’s denizens have ignored the apparent risks in their reckless pursuit of power. I’m probably going to laugh every time I see certain guildies use their Ancient Amber now.

  6. perculia permalink*
    May 12, 2011 7:16 am

    @loronar I am too; Northrend was part of Kalimdor before the Sundering so logically there’d be some fossil fragments there. They’ve included Night Elf and Troll fragments on the continent, so they could do fossils as well. Or maybe from a organizational standpoint, there were already so many varied digsites on the continent, they didn’t want to add more.

  7. perculia permalink*
    May 12, 2011 7:37 am

    @kaitri Fossil sites are still considered useless by some because there’s no keystones to speed things up and you generally solve the mount/pet at an early level. I do like the idea of archaeology because it shows the different ages of Azeroth instead of more phased areas…but the implementation drives me nuts. I agree, the charm in-game wears off as soon as you’ve discovered all the grey artifacts and start getting repeats.

    (ps–start your blog!)

  8. May 12, 2011 7:45 am

    @Norm: A wizard did it. DUH.

  9. Norm permalink*
    May 12, 2011 7:50 am

    @Cat

    Honestly if it were just a “wizards lol”, I could definitely accept it. I have zero problems with moving Dalaran, for example. They picked it up, any weird inconsistancies were dealt with by magic, how do floating sewer systems work um um um MAGIC OKAY CROCODILES RATS SEWERS YAY.

    The sundering was an explosion, though. It was CAUSED by mages/warlocks/demons getting out of hand, but it wasn’t even a maliciously guided change done by Kil’Jaden. It was just a giant explosion, like a fission bomb or an asteroid impact. Azeroth: Needs More Science or More Wizards to fix this.

  10. perculia permalink*
    May 12, 2011 7:52 am

    @narci YAY EPIC COMMENT OF AWESOME

    short answer: idk my bff the wizard did it

    long answer: I included the early Warcraft manual texts after our discussion about Azeroth Not Being As Old As All Evidence Suggests. I’m surprised that life in Northrend and EK seemed to pick up so easily (also the Earthen just chilling in a corner unrelated to the Night Elves, and then going into hibernation). I suppose that the land was blessed between the Titans, Well of Eternity, and dragons protecting everyone, so maybe it was extremely resilient.

    There’s such an accelerated timeline for human civilizations as well. Night Elves show up around 14,000 and by 10,000 they’ve got a Classical-era society. Seems like the Old Gods were pretty annoyed with the Earthen, but just sat back and let the demons corrupt the Night Elves. Also looking at troll lore, it appears that they were around for 16,000~ years but didn’t find the Well of Eternity and progress as quickly. Based on wowpedia/the Troll compedium…it even looks like the Sundering merely split the Amani/Gurubashi empires across continents and that the trolls continued to rebuild. Like, did a magical raft come and fly them across the ocean? Did the earthquake just pick up a random troll ruin and move it across the globe, with everyone intact?

  11. May 12, 2011 7:58 am

    @Norm: “Azeroth: Needs More Science or More Wizards to fix this.”

    I just choked on my tea. <3

  12. Lani permalink*
    May 12, 2011 8:14 am

    This is one of those situations where, as a scientist, I kind of feel like I have to just throw up my hands and go “OH WELL.” There’s a lot of errors in the environmental world building, in the sense that the geologic history of Azeroth doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But then again, “A wizard did it!” is a pretty much valid reason for something in WoW, so…maybe the Troll loa spirits communicated with their people and gave them directions for how to salvage/continue their civilizations, despite the world exploding.

  13. May 12, 2011 8:26 am

    @Pewter & Perculia — To be clear, Wowpedia indicates Neptulon’s alignment as chaotic evil/chaotic neutral. Compare this to Therazane, who is lawful neutral. Ragnaros and Al’Akir are also chaotic neutral, so Neptulon may even lean heavier toward the evil side.

  14. May 12, 2011 9:30 am

    Regarding the survival of Night Elf and Troll ruins in the Sundering, we’ve seen the same sort of geologic inconsistency with the Shattering. I’m always bemused, flying around EK doing Archaeology, to see the big crack between Loch Modan and the Badlands… and yet Uldaman, which is right by the crack, is unscathed, and the intact side of the Thandol Span is still intact. @ perculia — Perhaps Alexstrasza and Ysera stepped in (on both occasions) to protect the peoples of the world?
    (Also, where are the broken ends of the tunnel between Loch Modan and the Burning Steppes? Shouldn’t they be hanging out the sides of that crack?)

  15. May 12, 2011 11:11 am

    I’ve disliked Fossil Archaeology for a while now from a non-flavor perspective, because a) no keystones, b) very few rares. I mean, after the pet and the mount, you were basically done and all the other digs were just vendor trash. Granted, there’s a few more now, but it’s not like the Night Elf artifacts, where it takes dozens and dozens of finds before you net all the “good” ones.

    I’ve always been baffled by the Proto Drake skeleton. I mean, a PROTO DRAKE? Not a whelp but a full sized drake? I fly around on these things! How am I carrying an entire skeleton? And it’s worth less than this random green-quality staff I just found? What a crime.

    Re: Neptulon…you know, now that you mention it, I DO remember Neptulon as being the “evil” Lord, despite Ragnaros’ obvious in-game mischief. And yet in Cata we’re all buddy buddy with Neptulon…maybe we’re being played. Then again, maybe it’s like the living Nerubians, where two normally hostile factions work together to fight a common foe.

    Still, that raises some doubts in my mind about Neptulon. Hmm…

  16. May 12, 2011 11:17 am

    Regarding tectonic plates and logical arguments concerning land masses, etc., remember that Azeroth’s earth and lands are ENTIRELY malleable, defying rational patterns! Deathwing, before he got all nasty, used to just shift things around whenever he felt like it to help mortals out, and then later when he turned mean, he’d roll neighboring mountain communities together so they’d fight, or cause land rifts to make mortals fight over land/food/etc.

    So really, no matter how horribly unbalanced or unstable the earth and land becomes, it’s not a big deal because someone of sufficient power (possibly ONLY the Earth Warder) can just fix things up with a snap of his fingers.

  17. perculia permalink*
    May 12, 2011 12:10 pm

    @rades I have to admit fossils aren’t my favorite either and I struggled finding an angle for this at first, because it just wasn’t that appealing. Like you said, it’s easy to feel ‘done’ early on, especially when the artifacts don’t seem that related to the actual lore.

    Maybe the low value (still higher than extinct fossils) reflects the Titan’s displeasure with the proto-drake species? Like, the dwarves are interested in it for the link to the Titans, but they’re not *that* thrilled about it because proto-drakes are flawed dragons.

    Perhaps Neptulon temprarily allies himself with the players because they’re the enemy of his enemy (the naga). Although it’s interesting to see why the naga would turn against him in the first place. It’s been said that there will be new dungeon/raid content in Vash’jir, so hopefully we’ll see more then :)

  18. May 12, 2011 1:47 pm

    @Lani The loa are a really interesting angle – that’s one thing I always wish Blizzard would flesh out a bit more.

    @kaitri I agree, I loved the end of this post (though the role of magic in Azeroth is totally my pet topic). There’s so much to think about there — when using magic, do the ends justify the means/risks?

    @Loronar I think your point about Neptulon as a water elemental being chaotic neutral holds . . . water. Water can be unpredictable, life-giving, treacherous, helpful, destructive – all dependent on the situation. I think it makes absolute sense that we’re all sitting here, scratching our heads about what he’s up to.

  19. May 12, 2011 4:38 pm

    @Rades: Hm, but again, Deathwing/Neltharian was a magical, conscious entity. When he broke Azeroth in the Shattering, by just randomly doing damage, it followed basically consistent destructive patterns – flooding, raising mountains, cracks in the earth, destroying communities. So I have to assume when he was moving things around consciously, he was “fixing” the effects of moving continents around like silly putty. The Sundering was an accident, an explosion, and should have had affects FAR worse than the shattering.

    Azeroth: Needs more science or more wizards.

  20. May 13, 2011 3:00 am

    Why are we assuming the the Eastern Kingdoms “moved?” Is there any clear lore reason for us to not simply assume that the space surrounding the Maelstrom/Well was created by the explosion itself. Millions of tons of shattered rock being twisted into other dimensions by the unleashed Well makes for a fairly consistent explanation, and the remaining bits are simply the (admittedly very large) surviving perimeter of the original Pangea analog.

    “…As the aftershocks from the Well’s implosion rattled the bones of the world, the seas rushed in to fill the gaping wound left in the earth. Nearly eighty percent of Kalimdor’s landmass had been blasted apart, leaving only a handful of separate continents surrounding the new, raging sea…”

    Given that quote, the “great big hole that used to be the middle of the continent, now filled with water and a big whirlpool” explanation seems to cover most of the structural issues with the shape of the modern world.

  21. perculia permalink*
    May 13, 2011 6:46 am

    @Echo

    There’s evidence that Northrend moved: “As with the other continents, it was once part of the original Kalimdor landmass that was broken apart during the Sundering.[2] The land that became Northrend drifted far from Azeroth’s temperate zone, which killed off a large portion of the remaining wildlife.” There’s also a book talking about how the remaining night elves faced a shattered world in which all was destroyed save for Mount Hyjal. So even if the landmasses on EK didn’t move, it’s puzzling why other cultures weren’t really affected by the destruction.

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