Many World of Warcraft players are bored with the overused mechanics (tanks swap at x number of stacks of this debuff), as well as feeling like certain encounters types are too common (like fights with dragons).  With that in mind, Matt over at the Outlandish Podcast, recently requested (as part of a competition to win some interesting in-game prizes) that followers of the podcast come up with their own encounter (or raid) design.

While I will lay out my plans for a specific raid encounter below, I encourage you all to also create a raid encounter of your own, and both submit it to the Outlandish Podcast and if you post it in your blog, put a link in the comments below.  Perhaps as a community, we can create enough unique encounters (or raids) that will keep our interest in the game for years to come.

The Setup
While I understand that people are bored with the fights against dragons, I also understand that dragons in general offer the ability to come up with new and exciting ideas when it comes to encounters.  Also, because I have been fascinated by dragons for a long time, I felt that a "dragon fight" would be an appropriate encounter for an idea, but I also realize that the encounter has to be nothing like other encounters (or like all of them combined).

The Story
Because I was always interested in more of the storyline that could have been when it comes to Nefarian's experiments with the Chromatic Dragonflight, and because we will be returning to Blackrock Mountain (where the experiments were taking place), and we may be seeing the return of these dragons, I would like to see specific encounters with his experimental dragonflight.

The Encounter
The encounter takes place in the Blackwing Corridor, a small instance that requires players to complete it before they can enter Deathwing's Lair (similar to the gated effect of the Icecrown 5-man instances and Blackrock Depths/Molten Core).  In this instance, which is reminiscent of Onyxia's Lair, you are first required to follow down a spiraling tunnel, and kill a series of trash mobs, made up of various species of dragonkin (i.e. whelps, drakonid, dragonspawn, and drakeadon).

When you reach the bottom of the tunnel, you are presented with a long, stone-walled room.  The room is very long, with high ceilings, and five doors on either of the side walls.  Above each door, there is a banner corresponding to each of the dragonflights (red, green, blue, bronze, and black).  At the far end of the room, in the center of the stone wall is a large doorway, with a door on either side.  Above one of the doors is a banner with the color of all five dragonflights, and above the other is a similar, but more translucent banner.  Before the large door is a throne, with two smaller thrones on either side.

As you enter the room, you immediately notice Lady Briana Voracia, a human female, with long hair that sparkles like the stars, dressed in noble attire, sitting in the center throne.  Flanked at her sides are an elf of either race.  The one to the right is a blood elf, who goes by the name Baron Edward Perilion, his hair is iridescent, and shimmers like a rainbow.  The other is a night elf named Lord Byron Seditian; he has long white hair that glows like the moon.

A dialog ensues, with Lady Voracia where she informs you that she cannot allow you to proceed.  As she stops speaking a band dragonkin pour out of each of the doors on the sides of the room.  These are obviously members of the individual dragonflights, but appear corrupted, as if by some strange power.  Amongst the kin, you see every type of dragon under the sun, drakonid, dragonspawn, whelps, and even the occasional drakeadon.

The Lady informs you that, while "The Master" is waiting for his children, there is nothing wrong with a little entertainment, and she instructs the dragonkin to dismantle the ragtag group that approaches her without an invitation.  You immediately begin to be attacked by dragons of every color, unable to determine when the onslaught will end.

As you finish taking care of the last remnants of the dragons, Lord Seditian informs Lady Voracia that he is becoming impatient, and transforms into a massive Twilight Dragon.  His translucent scales remind you of nightfall, and he quickly attacks with ferocity.  During the fight his scales seem to slowly change colors; from the color of the day shifting into nightfall, to the color of midnight, to the golden shade of dawn.

When Seditian eventually falls limply to the ground, a slumber falls over you, and you hear the crackle of lightning combined with the roar of a burning city.  When you awake from your sleep, you see that Lord Perilion has morphed into an large Chromatic Dragon, whose scales flicker in the light like a prism in the sun, and seem to be every color at the same time.  His wings span the width of the room, and his head reaches the vaulted ceiling, he is indeed a massive dragon.

The fight begins, and you soon find that Perilion fights with unmatched malice, he burns you with his engulfing breath and arcane magic is thrown about with ease, the earth quakes as he teleports around the room as if time has no meaning to him, and members of your party to fall into a deep slumber as he flaps his massive wings.  He seems to become more and more agitated as the fight progresses, and slowly moves away from his magical abilities, toward using brute force.

As his body falls to the ground in defeat, he transforms back into his humanoid form, warning the group of the terrors that lay ahead with "The Master".  As he lay on the floor, you see five sparks of life float toward the ceiling.

Seeing the lords fall in battle, Voracia yells to the group to come face her if they are brave enough.  As you reach her, she is joined by a small band of chromatic and twilight dragonkin.  As you dispatch of the lesser dragons, Voracia shifts into a dragon, the likes of which you have never seen before.

Voracia exclaims, "I am the sunlight and the shadows, the sinner and the saint! I am the 'Every Dragon!'" With that, she charges toward the party, rears up on her hind legs and spouts fire toward the ceiling.  As her front claws slam on the ground, the party is thrown to the back of the room by the entrance; you can see now that her size rivals that of the Aspects, with her wings touching both walls, and her spiked tail reaching the other end of the room.

After regrouping, the party engages Voracia, who attacks with lightning speed, and armor melting breath.  She occasionally rears up, casting a spell toward the shadows of the room, where lesser dragons spawn, seemingly out of thin air.  After a point, she rears again on her back legs, and again spouts toward the ceiling, and slams back into the ground, causing the party to once again be thrown toward the back of the room.  The quake causes a rift in the floor to open, out of which spawn elementals of molten flame.

Upon seeing the rift open, she takes flight, and opens a portal toward the back of the room.  As you finish clearing up the elementals, a flock of whelps exits the portal.  Once the whelps exit the portal, the portal closes and she flies toward the opposite end of the room spouting flames at the party.

When she reaches the other side, she begins opening another portal, this one spawns drakonids, who attack very quickly, targeting the weakest amongst you.  When this portal closes, Voracia once again flies toward the other end of the room, spouting flames at the floor as she travels.  She begins opening a third portal.

When the drakonid are taken care of, a drake spawns from the third portal, and Voracia lands.  She instructs this drake to rid her of your presence, turns and starts out the exit on the other end of the room.  The drake flies at you quickly, and attacks you in the center of the room.  While still a drake, the enemy has impressive strength, but due to its limited experience the drake is sloppy, and makes many mistakes that allow you to take advantage.

After a short period fighting the drake, you notice that the ceiling is beginning to cave in behind you, forcing you to kill the drake quickly, and make your way to the exit in pursuit of Voracia.

There is a short hallway once you take the exit, with a small door at the other end.  Upon entering the room, you see Voracia at the ready, but once you take a few steps toward her, a sleep spell is placed on the entire group, at which point, Voracia attacks the party.  Upon being attacked, the members of the party are awakened, and the fight continues.

Voracia uses the abilities of every dragonflight seemingly at random; when she realizes that she may actually lose the fight, she becomes extremely angry, and starts spouting off random spells in every direction, which are amazingly potent, but easily avoidable.

Once Voracia falls in battle, the group is rewarded for their efforts, and a group of representatives from the Wyrmrest Accord appears, and decide to collect a scale from the Broodmother of the Every Dragons for examination.  After examining the Scale of the Every Dragons, Alextrasza informs the group that the scale has magical properties that will allow entrance into Deathwing's Lair.

The Conclusion
That is the end of my idea for a raid encounter, and I hope you enjoyed it.  Please feel free to leave your comments below.  Remember, if you have any ideas for a raid, or encounter, either post them in the comments or post them on your own blog and put a link to it below.  I plan on posting a follow-up to this one eventually, which will include links to the various ideas, as well as possibly combining ideas into full blown raids (but no promises).

See you in the Shadows,
The loss of a family member, a loved one, or a friend is never something that is easy to deal with, nor is it something that most people like to talk about.  However, death is a fact of life, and something that is rarely ever discussed in the realm of online gaming.  The only time I have seen death discussed in regards to gaming is either when someone decides to play themselves to death (by not sleeping/eating/drinking for days), or the occasional in-game funeral for a fallen friend.

While I have never personally experienced the death of one of my online friends, I do know that if one of them were to slip into the shadows, I would want to know.  Which brings about the question, if you were to pass away, how would you want your online friends to be informed about your passing?

After reading an article recently about an in-game funeral, I have pondered this, and have decided that like so many other aspects of life, "it depends" is once again the best response to this question, because it really does depend on both your personal life (Are you single or married? Do you have a will? Have you been experiencing any illness?) as well as your relationship with your online community (How well do you know each other? Have you been interacting with each other for a long time?).

If you are or have been experiencing any illness or disease which would be life threatening, and are relatively close with your online community, I would suggest informing them of the situation, at least in part, so that they are not caught off-guard should something happen.  If you are married or have children, it may be beneficial to discuss with them what you would want done if you were to pass away.

While it may sound almost morbid to discuss these topics, it is very much similar to preparing your last will and testament (and could likely be included as part of your will, if you have one), and is intended to make your passing easier for your loved ones.  Some things you might want to consider are the following:
  1. Of your online friends, which ones would you want to inform? (As many people as possible, or only the ones you interact with on a regular basis, like your guild or raid group?)
  2. Who from your real life community would you want to inform your online friends? (Wife, siblings, real life friend, etc.)
  3. Which method of communication would you want used to inform your online friends? (Posting on a website, Twitter, Facebook, VoIP (i.e. Ventrilo, Teamspeak, Mumble)).
  4. When would you like to have your friends informed of your passing? (Immediately after passing? A week or so after passing?)
  5. What would you want to have done with your online account? (Cancel the account all together? Sell the account (which is against the ToS)?)
  6. If you have any in-game wealth, would you want it distributed to the members of your community?
  7. Would you want an in-game funeral?

Personally, because I am married, I would prefer to take the burden of telling my online friends off the shoulders of my wife, as I would expect her to have other things on her mind.  Instead, I would want one of my brothers to let my friends know via either our guild website, or via whichever VoIP software we are using (which is Mumble if you are curious), as soon as possible after my passing. This is partially because they are more familiar with technology than my wife, especially when it comes to VoIP software, and because I think they would be able to relate to my online community better.

As far as my account is concerned, I would prefer to have as many of my belongings as possible sold off, and the resulting wealth distributed amongst my friends.  This way, I would be able offer them a small bit of joy in the midst of the sadness.  I would not, however, wish to have an in-game funeral, as that would bring about sadness from both my online community, and unnecessary sadness for the person that would have to play my character for the event.  Instead, if my friends wanted to honor my memory in some way in-game, I would much rather have a celebration.  Assuming my current WoW community, I would prefer to have fireworks, drinks, food, and dancing.

While I hope that both you and your online community never have to experience the loss of an online friend, I will pose the question: What would you like done if you were to slip into the shadows?

See you in the Shadows,