Legendary Weapons: Story chains or class quests?

Anne Stickney
A. Stickney|02.10.12

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Legendary Weapons: Story chains or class quests?
So last week, the first rogue in my guild got the Fangs of the Father set, and I started working on my set. Right now, I'm about a third of the way to stage two, and then I'll have stage three to contend with. Though there are fewer pieces to collect for the daggers, unlike the items for Dragonwrath, only one rogue can proceed on the chain at a time. That's OK with me -- I don't mind the wait, and I know I have fun stuff to look forward to in between stages. I wasn't expecting a cutscene after starting the chain, but I was absolutely delighted with the fact that I got a bit of story to play through instead of "You killed Illidan and you're very lucky -- have a Warglaive!"

However, there was another, slightly more bothersome difference between Dragonwrath and the Fangs of the Father, one I'm not quite sure how I feel about. When our first raider got his Dragonwrath, everyone rushed to Orgrimmar and watched Kalecgos appear and deliver the staff in front of everyone that happened to be idling in town at the time. It was a moment of sheer excitement, joy, and fun, both for the player who got the staff and the guild who had helped him along the long road to getting it.

We didn't get that with Fangs of the Father.

Oh, don't get me wrong -- the rogue who completed it apparently got something cool to do (something that I asked her not to tell me about, as I'd like to see the stuff spoiler-free when I'm getting my own stabby-fun toys). But the rest of the guild got absolutely nothing out of it. In fact, they couldn't even see her get them, she was phased out and part of her own solitary quest chain. So there was nothing for the guild or the server to watch, nothing to cheer for, not even a pet to purchase for the rest of the guild. It was just a lone rogue getting a set of super-cool daggers ... and that was that.

On the one hand, I see the design behind that. After all, a young black dragon that just wants to be left alone isn't going to want to advertise to the server or even the guild. It's an agreement between the dragon and the player, and it remains a quiet, hush-hush agreement until the end. But it sort of took some of the joy out of the experience, in a way. I'm happy for my guildmate, and I can't wait to get my own, but I almost feel bad that the guild doesn't get to experience any of this for themselves.

Blessing of Kings had a few points to make about legendary quest lines, particularly how they've progressed over the course of WoW and in Cataclysm, in particular. He asks whether we can have weapons with quests and lore without having them be rare and powerful, and it's a good question -- after all, we used to have them. We had them with Benediction, with Rhok'delar, and most recent with Quel'Delar. So the answer there is a definite yes -- but then, I'm looking at it from a different perspective here.

On your own

You see, I was one of the lucky raiders back in vanilla who got to complete the chain for Benediction. I remember doing the quest chain, and it was extremely difficult, but it challenged my skill as a priest and required me to pretty much pull every trick out of the book to complete the chain. I remember our hunters working on their Rhok'delars as well and talking about the technical complexities of the fights that required them to use every trick in their spellbooks, too. Ultimately, both priests and hunters came out of their respective chains with a little more understanding of their class.

I can safely say after having completed the first stretch of the chain for Fangs of the Father that it feels exactly like going after Benediction did. The only difference between then and now? It's the color of the weapon you get at the end. Here's the thing with Benediction and Rhok'delar, however. In vanilla, it was not easy to get these weapons. You could not get them unless you were in a dedicated 40-man raiding guild. There was no pugging MC when these weapons were at the peak of their performance. And as with legendaries, these weapons were replaced soon enough with weapons from another tier of raiding. Oh sure, it took a little longer to replace them, but they were still replaced.

Quel'Delar is the only weapon out there that was easily obtainable and had a lot of lore behind it. All the rest? You had to raid to get them. End of story. Dragonwrath, Fangs of the Father -- heck, even the legendaries of Wrath, Shadowmourne and Val'anyr -- all of these weapons had quest chains associated with them, and lore as well. The difference is that Shadowmourne, Val'anyr, and even Dragonwrath are all legendaries available to multiple classes, while the Fangs of the Father are available to just one.

And that's the sticking point, really, and where the common thread comes into play. Benediction, Rhok'delar and Fangs of the Father are all extraordinary weapons meant for one class only -- and the only people who got to witness those events were the members of those classes. In fact, with Benediction and Rhok'delar, players were actually punished if they tried to bring anyone but themselves to complete the items. With Fangs of the Father, the player is simply phased into another zone, away from the prying eyes of those who would like to see.

Shared quests, shared stories, shared histories

This is what bothers me about legendary quests, however -- and it really shouldn't, but it does. If a guild helps a player get a really special item, it only seems natural that they should get to participate in the completion of that item. Dragonwrath's story particularly bothered me because there were huge chunks of lore in that quest, namely the appointment of Kalecgos as the new Aspect of the Blue Dragonflight, that I would never get to see simply because I don't play a class that can get that particular weapon.

But the guild got to participate anyway in that final celebration, and it was a joyous moment for everyone involved. With Fangs of the Father, we were still overjoyed for our guildmate, of course, but the only resolution we as guildies saw for all that time spent killing bosses and letting our rogue gather the pieces for her weapon was the achievement that flashed when she finally got them.

I guess what I'm looking for here is consistency, and this is what I'd like to see: Let those legendaries and quest chains keep coming. But if you're going to make them lore-intensive and give them a storyline, let the guild participate at some point. Let them have a little fun. Let them see a little cutscene. Let them experience some of the joy. After all, they're helping their guildmate get this amazing thing. And for those who don't raid, I would love to see more of the Quel'Delar weapons out there -- weapons with decent stats, but more importantly, weapons with amazing storylines. In the end, it's not the color of the weapon I'm concerned with -- it's the content and letting everyone get a taste of the experience.

Brace yourselves for what could be some of most exciting updates to the game recently with patch 4.3. Review the official patch notes, and then dig into what's ahead: new item storage options, cross-realm raiding, cosmetic armor skinning and your chance to battle the mighty Deathwing -- from astride his back!
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