One of the most common complaints I hear from up and coming Rogues is how difficult the level 20 poison quests can be. For those of you who have already done the quest, I'm sure you still remember how tricky it was. Admittedly, for anyone desiring the easy way out, you can certainly get your level 70 guild mate to clear the tower for you after you pick the pocket of the mob at the bottom. Alternately, you can get someone only slightly higher than you to just follow along and heal you. Failing that, you can also get a group of like-level characters and take the quest out via sheer numbers. While all of these tactics are wildly successful, they do deprive you of one of the few occasions in the game when you actually have to truly use your Rogue skills to accomplish a truly Rogue-like objective -- making off with someone else's stuff.
For those who are stubborn (much like I am) and are determined to test your Rogue skills by doing the level 20 Rogue Poison quest solo, I will share the secrets of Doing This Quest The Hard Way. To me, it's much more fun that way, and is in keeping with the sneaky spirit of the class.
For each side, the Rogue poison quest starts at Level 20. So as to make this useful for each side, I will run down each side's strategy separately.
No matter where you start as a Rogue (with the exception of Thunder Bluff which does not have a Rogue trainer due to lack of stealthy cows) you will eventually be sent to speak with Shenthul in the Cleft of Shadow in Orgrimmar. When you reach level 20, Shenthul will offer you a quest called The Shattered Salute. This is extremely easy. Just /salute him and enjoy your free XP for it. (Short of the Test of Faith, Lazy Peons, or discovered xp, that will be about as easy as it gets.) After that, he will give you a quest called Deep Cover. This involves him giving you a [Flare Gun] and telling you to head to the Barrens to talk to Taskmaster Fizzule.
Once you get the quest, fly to Splintertree Post in Ashenvale if you have the Flight Point. If not, that means a flight to the Crossroads, and hoofing it Northeast. Ultimately you will want to wind up just slightly North of the Sludge Fen. There you will see Taskmaster Fizzule (a Dwarf) standing next to a tree. Don't approach him right off -- he is level 30 and will happily attack you if you don't shoot the flares into the air and /salute him as you're expected to. If you do the Flares/salute correctly, he will turn friendly, which will allow you to approach him and complete the quest. He will also give you [Fizzule's Whistle] which will allow you to make him friendly in the future, should you for some reason want him to be. From him you will get the quest Mission: Possible But Not Probable which is the one that most people dread, as it involves the use of specific Rogue skills, and can take some trial and error if you don't have a friendly Rogue to help explain what works. (Or a friendly Rogue writer somewhere...)
I will stop to point out that unless you have specced 5 points into Master of Deception, you will find that all of these mobs have a very high level of stealth detection. After the first time I did the quest I learned that it is easier to wait until level 22 to attempt the quest if I don't have the 5 in MoD. This is primarily because there are two abilities at that level that are incredibly useful to the early Rogue -- Distract and Vanish. So unless you are at least decently twinked and specced for sneaky, I would generally suggest that you save it as well just to make it easier on yourself. This is entirely personal choice, however. I will be adding the level 22 abilities I normally use in parenthesis. You will also absolutely have to have a dagger in the main-hand for these, so if you are a Sword Rogue, be certain to make sure your Dagger skill is up there so you don't miss! (You may also want to consider a weapon switching macro, but that's optional.)
- First, you may want to take out the two Venture Co. Drones. This is an optional step as they are not needed for the quest. I just like to kill them so I can run out of the tower if need be. The easiest way to accomplish this is to (Distract then) Garrote one and Sprint away from the other one that is beating on you. Once it stops pursuing you, turn around, stealth back, (Distract) and Garotte the second one. Garrote is pretty much a one-shot kill on these mobs.
- Foreman Silixiz is your next target. I suggest going after him by circling around the tower and coming at him from behind. (Distract him, if possible.) Sap him then you'll pickpocket [Silixiz's Tower Key] from him. It will land in your keyring, in case you go looking for it. Also, please be sure to kill him so that he respawns with a key in his pocket for the next Rogue who comes along to do the quest. If you don't get a key, it means another Rogue didn't clean up after themselves. You'll have to kill him and wait for a respawn.
- Inside the tower on the bottom, you will find two undead Mutated Venture Co. Drones. Ambush works on these very well. You will want to follow a similar strategy: (Distract) Ambush, Sprint, Stealth, (Distract and) Ambush again. That should take those two out of the way.
- Up the stairs on the next level, you will find two goblin Venture Co. Patrollers. For these two, you will want to throw as many Ruptures as you can. Yes, even one or two point Ruptures should work handily. If you get into too much trouble, be prepared to hit a potion (I do not suggest Vanish here, it blows your timer) but you generally should be able to take these two down in short order by throwing lots of Ruptures.
- Continue up the stairs. Outside the door on the balcony, you will find two goblin Venture Co. Lookouts. Eviscerate is the key ability here. Don't waste time building up combo points -- throw Eviscerate as soon as you have the first point. The goblins will turn into green slimes which you can tear down easily. If your armor or weapons are a bit weak (or your level is a bit low) it's best to turn them both to slimes immediately. You'll take far less damage that way.
- At the top of the tower is Grand Foreman Puzik Gallywix. For his chest, your lockpicking needs to be between 80 and 100. If it is not, hoof it to the practice locks and get that skill up! Once ready, position yourself behind Gallywix who is a level 23 elite mob. (Distract helps) Ambush is the key talent here. One good Ambush will take him to approximately 1/2 health. For those of you at 20, you'll want to open with Ambush, and then immediately pop Evasion so that he doesn't hit you for much, because he's still an Elite, and he will kill you in short order. For those at Level 22, Distract, Ambush, Vanish and Ambush again. If you do the Ambush/Vanish/Ambush fast enough, you will most likely kill him. Even if you don't, he will have barely any health at all, and a couple of good hits should finish him off. If you want to be extra safe, feel free to pop Evasion after the second Ambush, but I honestly wouldn't waste my time. Don't forget to loot his head before you open the chest! Once you get poisoned, it makes it easier for the mobs to see you if you have to come back for the head and fight your way back up.
- From there, you'll open the chest. Generally speaking, this will poison you. It is a very slow acting poison that lasts for 7 days and decreases your effective stealth as well as decreasing your Agility. Druids, Shamans and Paladins can clean poisons, you can cure it with the Anti-Venom from First Aid, or you can go to Tarren Mill where you will get your poisons and the cure all at the same time.
Now, I will admit I am having to go from written reports compiled from research and a bit of reconnaissance in which I was lucky enough to stumble across a level 20 Night Elf Rogue actually doing this quest. If there are errors here, please do let me know so I can correct them. (I tried to get an Alliance character up to this level, but my wee Gnome Rogue only made it to 14 before this column needed to be out.) Your quest starts with Mathias and the Defias which starts with Master Mathias Shaw in Stormwind. Much like the Horde Rogue quest, you will also want to make sure your Lockpicking is between 80 and 100 before you begin. If not, be sure to level it up so that you can open your chest! From there, you will head to Westfall and speak to an NPC named Agent Kearnen at the bottom of the watch tower. Apparently she will give you a book with tips along with the quest Klaven's Tower, but it appears her journal only includes help for the first handful of mobs. From there, it leaves you largely on your own.
- There are a pair of Defias Drones and two Venture Co. Drones who path around the tower. You will want to do your best to avoid these mobs, as they are apparently quite good at seeing through stealth. They have fairly long paths, so this shouldn't be a huge issue.
- First, you will want to Sap and then Pickpocket the Malformed Defias Drone. He classes as "Humanoid" and not "Undead" despite his looks so Sap works just fine. The Drone paths around the tower on his own, and catching the other two patrols away from him is just a question of timing. As always, if you pickpocket him, be sure to kill him as a courtesy to your fellow Rogues. If you attempt to pickpocket and get nothing, it means someone didn't kill their pickpocket. You'll have to kill him and wait for the respawn. Also, be sure that you are checking your keyring for this key, and not your bags.
- Inside the tower you will run across two Defias Patrollers and two Defias Tower Sentries. You can actually stealth past all of these mobs, if you time it correctly. If you find it to be too problematic to sneak past them, keep in mind that you should be close enough to your corpse to rez on the stairs near, or at the top of the tower if you die on the way up.
- Once you get to the top, you'll meet up with Klaven Mortwake, who is a level 23 Elite humanoid. For him, the best plan of attack appears to be Sapping him so you can safely Pickpocket him, kill him (Ambush/Evasion is your friend) so the next Rogue has a fresh spawn with full pockets. Then pilfer the box for it's contents. From there, you can jump to the bottom of the tower if you're feeling brave, and sprint out, or you can attempt to sneak back down. Personally, I'd probably do the jump to the bottom one, adding in a potion as soon as I landed just so anything outside the tower didn't one-shot me as I went flying past it. As above, the nasty 7-day poison can be removed by a Shaman or Druid, removed by the Doc in Stormwind if you'd like to gather some ingredients for him and get some XP (remember to /lay in front of him to start it) or you can use the Anti-Venom from First Aid.
That said, the situational uses of poisons is a topic for another day...