An Eastern Plaguelands Adventure

As I was getting close to hitting level 60, I decided that it was time to find some grindy quests to fill out those last couple of bars. There was plenty of content left to do but I already had my eyes set on the start of Tirion Fordring's quest chain, which requires you to depopulate half the Eastern Plaguelands. I hadn't actually thought about Tirion's background as a sad hermit living off maggot stew in a long time. Hemet Nesingwary has nothing on this guy's bloodlust in Vanilla.

My first attempt to get going actually got aborted before I'd even made it to the Plaguelands, as I got a whisper while on the gryphon whether I wanted to tank Sunken Temple. I had realised last time that I'd forgotten to pick up my class quest (because to be honest I'd forgotten that everyone got one of these for Sunken Temple to begin with, so I hadn't been on the lookout), so I needed another run anyway and was happy to oblige. All I can say is that it was another successful and entertaining run.

As a result of this, my second attempt at tackling Tirion's quests saw me armed with a shiny new axe. I started my play session by spending several minutes whacking away at a carrion grub, trying to get my one-handed axe skill at least into the double digits.

As I moved out of Tirion's little corner of the Plaguelands, I saw that someone else had already cleared out the area and eventually ran into a rogue who was obviously on the same mission as me. She instantly threw me a group invite.

In that second before I accepted, a lot of thoughts raced through my head, not as fully formed words, but as concepts. Modern MMOs have generally made me not want to group up for kill quests, because usually they only require you to kill something like six mobs anyway and if I'm already on the fourth one there is little point in accepting a group invite when I'll be up and away again thirty seconds later. Also, I had kind of come out here specifically to grind on my own. But that quest counter required me to kill seventy mobs or so, without being specced for dps. I accepted.

We had barely grouped up when four Horde came riding by. I tried to run but didn't stand a chance. My new companion vanished and immediately apologised for leaving me hanging, but I agreed that there wouldn't have been any point in her attacking, what with there being four of them. Once I'd recovered my body, we began scouring the area for mobs more seriously. The rogue turned out to be a skinner and a herbalist, diligently hoovering up the leftovers of all dead hounds and bats, and frequently dashing off into the nearby hills to pick flowers. She got really excited about some of them and I couldn't blame her - she even found a black lotus. She apologised for seemingly having such a short attention span but I could completely relate, seeing how my own main in retail used to be a herbalist and my main in SWTOR is also a bioanalyst (the fancy sci-fi version of a flower picker, and I still get shouted at for not keeping up with the group in that game - some things never change).

I apologised for my lack of damage contribution and explained that I was levelling my weapon skill (never mind the whole prot/holy thing) but she didn't seem to mind and was just delighted by my buffs and constant cleansing of the various nasty debuffs that plaguelands critters have a habit of leaving on you - seriously, some of those can be nearly crippling depending on your class and have durations of up to half an hour.

I soon commented that questing as a duo was oddly relaxing and she said that this was because it was so safe, and it's absolutely true. Vanilla WoW managed to strike that golden balance of making it possible and feasible to quest on your own at all times, but since pulling adds could be highly painful, grouping up was a great way of reducing stress, not to even mention the added strength in numbers on a PvP server.

Later, when the follow-up mission to the mega-grind sent us to the Undercroft to retrieve Taelan's toy hammer, clicking the mound of earth there spawned four mobs at once, plus a couple of nearby zombies decided to join in as well. The rogue was initially alarmed, but I laid down a consecration and controlled the lot of them while she burned them one by one, eventually resorting to a Lay on Hands when I got low on both health and mana. She laughed and commented that this was a classic pally move. It reminded me of how much I previously enjoyed teaming up with damage dealers - as a paladin with a prot/holy spec I'm pretty good at staying alive through all kinds of shenanigans, but killing things can be painfully slow. Having someone to help with that while keeping any situation under control by tanking and healing is just the perfect combination.

When we had finished up the EPL part of the quest chain and I needed to log off because it was late, I was quite pleased with the evening's progress. It just continues to fascinate me how easily and naturally grouping up occurs in the Vanilla WoW environment even now, and that despite of the questing being perfectly solo-friendly.


  1. I can tell you that all of the old Vanilla Sunken Temple quests got me thoroughly sick of that place.

    And it only took about, oh, 6-7 times through as an L80 before I figured out where everything was. (And then Cata had to go and break it up into pieces....)

    1. Oh, I got lost in there plenty of times back in the day, but that was part of the fun! Cata just gutted it by entirely removing everything but the main level as far as I remember...

    2. They did that with a lot of the other old mega-dungeons too in an attempt to make them more palatable, but they missed the point. Turning those megadungeons into multiple Azjol-Nerub runs didn't help people experience the full size of these old, sprawling places. In Vanilla, these places worked because they were the endgame for non-raiders. Old time dungeon crawls were the way to spend 1-2 hours finding your way around, mapping by hand, and searching for the one gizmo you needed.

    3. Well, you can blame the dungeon finder for that. When your goal is to get people to participate in randomised, bite-sized pieces of group content all the time, you have to make sure that all of them are actually bite-sized or you'll end up with lots of groups falling apart whenever an "inconvenient" option comes up.

    4. The DF did work for what it was, but at the same time Blizz decided that 5-mans were too much trouble and created LFR and the 3-mans. And we know how those turned out.