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Breakfast Topic: How about those voices in your head?

Cthun
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Your friends will abandon you.

The first time I heard that ringing in my ears, it freaked me out. Wandering into Ahn'Qiraj-40 and having C'Thun whispering sweet evil nothings in my ear about my heart exploding and being already dead is hardly someone wants to hear on the best of days, much less while raiding. Warcraft has had a history of strange and dreadful whispers, sometimes from places in the game and sometimes from actual items (Chained Essence of Eranikus, anyone?). And they always seem to be strange and terrifying. But what if they weren't? What if they were comforting or gave you courage?

The idea that a familiar, friendly or helpful character from WoW guiding you either by being in your head or being a part of an item you carry seems a little alien, but to me, like a warm blanket for your character. Maybe it's a certain dragon aspect watching over you, or the familiar voice of your Orc mentor telling you try again. It would inspire confidence rather than fear, congeniality rather than hostility.

Would you go along with the voice or not? Who would it be? Or do you find the idea of anyone whispering in your head (quest mechanics aside) a little weird or violating?

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WoW Archivist: Scepter of the Shifting Sands

The WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

It is sad to me that it seems the only players who have access to truly epic quest lines these days are the ones on the receiving ends of legendaries -- Shadowmourne and now Dragonwrath. If we turn back the clock to vanilla, we'd come across perhaps the most epic quest line of them all. Monstrous in its time commitment, material needs, and far more random and diverse than the chain for Thunderfury, it was the mother of all quests. Not only did it require the participation of an entire realm in order to be able to complete it, but it took the effort of at least one raid team of 40 (if not more) to coordinate and organize the energy needed to get a very small handful of people very rare and very special rewards that have yet to be duplicated by Blizzard.

This quest chain is the Scepter of the Shifting Sands.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Breakfast Topic: World of Prankcraft

As I flew through the air with the aerobatic ease of a football, I began to reflect on what choices I had made in my short time in the World of Warcraft. What had led me to this fate? Was it my stubborn tenacity? My ambition? A thirst for glory?

Nay. It was the priests in my raid having very little scruples and all the Dispels they could keybind to their bars on the Volcanus fight inside of Firelands. For those not in the know, Volcanus is a special boss that you summon when you are on the quest chain for the legendary staff Dragonwrath. Part of the fight requires having fiery roots dispelled off of the raid in order to continue fighting a giant flaming tree -- but do this too early and you will get punted into the air, sailing gracefully into the hot, steamy emptiness underneath Firelands. Did this happen to anyone else? No, some priest saw fit just to do this to me, a pitiful gnome mage. (Thankfully, it was no match for my Blink-and-Evocate one-two punch!)

Which brings me to my question, dear readers: Have you ever been on the butt-end of a dumb prank? Or were you the one who logged onto your friend's character and left him stranded with no gear and no hearthstone in an enemy town?

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Breakfast Topic: Where do you put all of those pets?

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It's really no secret that many of us WoW players are rabid pet collectors. No price on the Auction House is too high nor grind too long if we have our eyes set on something adorable or rare. But have you ever given a thought as to where your character would realistically keep all of these critters? While game mechanics defines us having just pages and pages of non-combat friends, what about if your character were real? You'd think that Azeroth would have pet grooming and boarding for miles. Stables might be a commonplace service for hunters, but I suspect those of us who rival real-life cat ladies might be in some trouble.

I've always imagined that my character, a petite and animal-loving gnome, spends a great amount of money on a pet deposit and extra housing in order to keep all of her various furry friends in check. Cages, fences and extra barns really don't seem out of place given that so many of my collection fly or wouldn't be suited to indoor life, per se. I also imagine my mage's druidic husband would help take care of some of the more calm and traditional animals.

The denizens of Azeroth must come up with some magical and inventive ways to keep their brood in check -- what would be yours? Would it be row upon row of cages, or would you just live in a giant aviary or zoo?

Have you ever wanted to write for WoW Insider? Your chance may be right around the corner. Watch for our next call for submissions, and be sure to sign up for Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider. The next byline you see here may be yours!

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Breakfast Topic: Do you test new content on the PTRs?

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It is pretty obvious that the public testing realms are a very useful tool for Blizzard in order to determine what exactly the kinks are in the newest content it is going to roll out -- and even a way to gauge popular opinion on new builds, talents, and bosses. However, the PTR seems to only really cater to one sort of personality: a personality that enjoys seeing everything before it is even brand spankin' new, possibly a little broken (or a lot broken, as the case may be).

There have been times when I've been so jazzed about the public testing realms that I've downloaded the server and patches as soon as they are available and jumped right into trying out the freshest raids or quests, and other times, I just don't give a hoot. PTRs are often the lifeblood of up-to-date bloggers and theorycrafters, but for me, it really all depends. Sometimes I like finding bugs; other times, it just doesn't seem worth the hassle.

Do you find yourself lining up to get into the latest quests and raids on the PTR? Hitting the testing dummies? Or is it all something you'd rather digest from the front page of WoW Insider instead and leave the testing to the experts?

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Breakfast Topic: Does WoW ever creep you out?

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If you asked the average player to describe the overall tone of Azeroth, I'd wager that a lot of them would say that it is colorful, epic, or even downright cartoonish. But in my mind, the World of Warcraft we know sometimes takes a detour from the entertaining to the downright creepy. Whether it be intentionally scary or macabre things such as giant tarantulas in Terrokkar forest or stuff that just gives you the heebie-jeebies (like the Satanic children that walk the dusty road from Stormwind to Goldshire), WoW has a lot of things that put a shiver up and down your spine.

I've seen a lot of gross, scary or weird things in game, but it wasn't until the Shattering that I had a major creepfest moment. I was flying idly over Hillsbrad surveying the damage of the area, when I noticed bears -- except they didn't look like the bears I knew from the zone prior. They were bears ... with spider egg sacs infesting their flesh. Being a major arachnophobe and having a lot of issues with parasites and the like, I took my drake out of there as fast as I could so I wouldn't feel ill.

What about Warcraft creeps you the heck out?

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Breakfast Topic: Who's your new favorite NPC?

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Maybe it was helping Tirion in the Plaguelands; maybe it was helping Mankrik find his wife. Everyone had a favorite NPC in the old world long before any of the Cataclysm changes took place. But now that Azeroth has been shattered and reformed, we have seen not only new faces but old favorites in new and strange ways. Questing recently (if you haven't taken the time to, you should!) has been a strange mixture of familiarity combined with entertaining surprises from characters we've never met before.

Our guild has been abuzz with people having long discussions over who is the best, as most of us have been rolling up new low-level alts to poke, prod, and explore, or even just taking our mains out to do more Loremaster achievements. Some people love various quirky characters (or outright hate them), and other people like the more serious lore figures. All in all, we've had a lot to talk about regarding the people in the new Old World.

If you've been out and about doing the new quests, who are your favorite new NPCs? Is it Zen'kiki in Western Plaguelands? Or Lunk from Searing Gorge and his adorable pacifism?

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Breakfast Topic: The newbs in your life


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Blizzard's promotion for all three expansions for just a cool $20 prior to the holidays lured not only old players back to the fold but also a great deal of people new to the World of Warcraft. It's easy to grab a friend, a relative, or coworker to try the game out with a 10-day trial, but how about dropping pizza money on three expansions' worth of content? It was an easy deal for anyone to get into, especially now that the game has been revised heavily to favor new players.

My sister had tried a 10-day trial back in the day but ended up rolling a mage and not quite getting the hang of it, despite my help. She quit after a couple days. I got her back into the game with this deal, as she and I do not live in the same state anymore and it'd be a nice way to keep up with her. With the low price and easy new questing and class skills, she picked it right back up and rolled a night elf hunter. It was nice to see her enjoying it and to have someone additional to play with.

Have you recently pulled anyone new into the game, or perhaps brought a former player back into playing World of Warcraft? How are they liking it? Is it fun to help someone new along now that the early levels of the game have been so streamlined?

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Breakfast Topic: Is your guild looking forward to guild perks?

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Cataclysm is focusing on many new things and changes to the old ways of doing things. With guild experience being on the forefront of these changes, it is no surprise that suddenly people are taking more notice of their social environment, as it may have an impact on the game once the grind for your own guild goes live. Having a group whose personnel and personality are on the same page as you might be nice if you're planning on receiving some of the benefits (like mounts, special patterns and bonuses to rezzing) immediately.

Some people are very focused on guild perks and have assembled elite crafting and leveling forces or are maintaining the same strict raid teams they've had for a while. Others don't care as much. Blizzard has made it clear that all sorts of guilds can effectively benefit over time from the guild leveling system.

Our guild is especially looking toward having enough people to be able to level up quickly, even if we won't have a bulk of our guild XP coming in from raiding achievements. This bodes well, as we've very quickly started taking on orphans from other servers, alts of people in other guilds and raid teams, and people rolling up new characters.

Does your guild care about the XP system? Are you a close-knit, small guild that will be leveling up slowly, or are you a large raiding guild that things like mass-rezzing appeal to? Or is your guild looking forward to something else entirely?

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Breakfast Topic: Not my rainbow gear!

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

Blizzard attempted to change the leveling process on many fronts -- easier XP, quests for dungeons at the beginning of said dungeon, and better quest flow. One of the more lively changes was quest loot being given more useful stats -- and more importantly, being made part of an overall more "matching" set. This meant that people who predominantly quest will find themselves looking put together, rather than wearing whatever scraps of material they roll over while trying to collect 20 bear bottoms. The sets may not always work with random "- of the X" drops, but overall, they look nicer and have a easily identifiable style and color scheme.

I'm quite impressed with this change. The strange mish-mash of leveling gear from questing was not only hideous to look at, it never matched and often had really terrible models with garish textures. The new questing gear looks regal and not prone to as much strange skin-baring, either. It looks like you're moving up the ranks of badassery as you are leveling up. This is a good feature! For those who are more inclined to roleplay, it gives you access to some easy outfits that you can wear around Stormwind or Ogrimmar and look trendy.

While I know this trend is going to stop dead in its tracks at Outland (which I will overcome by putting my heirloom gear back on), it is fun to see it present in the Azeroth leveling experience and further on in Cataclysm content. Are you happy about this change, or do you feel that the garish clown vomit outfits of years past were essential to people's game before the level cap?

Will you miss mismatched clown armor during leveling?
No, absolutely not.7418 (66.7%)
Yes, I liked the nutty factor.2043 (18.4%)
Yes, I liked having a progression into high-end sets.1661 (14.9%)

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