Friday, February 13, 2009

The Trouble With Humans: Wrynn, Proudmoore, and My Emotional Overinvolvement

So, apparently, in the last few days, I managed to annoy Weryl (of DPS Plate) by bitching a bit too long and hard about Varian Wrynn on Twitter. Certainly don't blame him; if someone seethed as hard at my racial leader as I do at his, I'd be rolling my eyes at them too.

But it got me to thinking -- about just what my problem is with the dude. And it doesn't take too much to divine that it's not really my problem, it's my character's.

For Jezriyah, who tries so hard not to judge people by face value, Wrynn represents every single bad stereotype she's ever heard about humans -- that arrogant, self-important, "with us or against us" thinking. By living up to everything that many orcs expect humans to be, he gives them another excuse to hate all humans. She feels the same way about Garrosh Hellscream; he is everything that the New Horde is not, everything that her beloved Warchief has tried to convince the rest of the world that orcs are not. He's the kind of orc that made Wrynn hate orcs, and Wrynn is the kind of human who makes orcs hate humans.

That's the deeper side of it. The more superficial is this: she doesn't hate him, she just hates him back. He started it. This human she'd never seen in her life, only vaguely heard of, walked up to her in the Undercity and basically said "You and all of your friends and family and loved ones and allies are evil, and I am going to destroy you all." How the hell would you feel?

Now, here's the thing. I have a long and vibrant history of getting too emotionally involved in the things I'm a fan of. TV shows, books, movies, bands... I care too much. This goes double for Jez, who is my first original character that lasted more than twenty minutes. So her in-character feelings bleed out of character as well. Add in the fact that I just may be an even bigger fangirl of Thrall than she is, and yeah -- not terribly fond of the guy.

But if I can step fully out of character and look at it purely from a gamer and lore nut perspective... his introduction is kinda awesome. The Horde and Alliance's "unsteady peace" has been left untouched for four years now, and Wrynn as the antithesis for Thrall throws some delicious kinks into the relationship between the two factions. How does that work, when the leader of a nation wants war against another nation, whose leader is striving for peace? How will either side handle this conflict while still dealing with everything going on in Northrend? Can either side fight both of these battles at once? If not -- if the Alliance has to choose between destroying the Horde or the Scourge, if the Horde has to decide which of the two threats to face down first -- where will their priorities lie? Will the "old Horde" orcish armies, after so many years of seeing humans as the enemy, attack the Alliance against their Warchief's command? And if it truly comes to blows, where will the loyalties of Theramore fall?

Theramore... and therein, the other antithesis to the King... Jaina Proudmoore. I've griped about her before, as well. But for the opposite of reasons. I always kind of pooh-poohed her as a whiny worrywart who never had the figurative cojones to even try preventing any of the terrible things she was witness to (her trademark line of "I can't watch you do this" followed by not doing anything about it comes to mind). But after a vigorous Twitter chat with Greyseer of LoreCrafted -- is it starting to become clear what I do all day at work? -- I started paying a little more attention to her actual backstory, and what do you know... she's kind of a badass. It just seems as though her lore and personality have been watered down for the sake of game mechanics. Which is bound to happen when you try to turn a complex story into an RTS game, and then that RTS into an MMO. From what we could tell on Twitter, a good number of people had similar opinions to mine. Between all this, and the fact that her relationship with Thrall is often dismissed as a romantic throwaway (instead of two well-respected leaders who see each other as allies and equals in a world that doesn't lend itself well to that), she's been pretty solidly underestimated in the WoW world.

Shit's getting interesting now. This is a good thing. There's been tons of interesting story potential in the game so far, but very little of it actually existed between the two factions. Getting the focus off of external threats and dealing with what's going on in the old world opens up a lot of new possibilities for this incredible story we all play in.

So yeah, Wrynn's still a jerk. But he's a jerk who's about to make things a lot more fun.


Cocles said...

In regards to Jaina, you should check out "Cycle of Hatred" by Keith R. A. DeCandido. It takes place between WC3 and WoW, and gives a lot of great insight as to what Jaina really is all about.

Arrens said...

Agreed, that book plays prominently into Jaina's story. However, her WoW persona is still pretty vanilla in that she's not actually -doing- anything to assist the cause. She walked away from Arthas. She froze everyone in Undercity instead of smacking around one side or the other. She needs more depth instead of being seen as Ms. Priss to the masses.

As for Wrynn? He's still a jerk. *sagenod*

Anonymous said...

I'm in the Horde because of Thrall. I always ask, "Who would you rather follow? A wise thinker who cares only for the future of his followers, or a spoiled little boy who wants to carve his manhood out of other civilizations' deaths?" The humans always talk of being "noble", but all they really want is to capitalize and gain profit. The Orcs have a truly noble cause. They fight for their place in the world, to be recognized as people and not monsters. Why wouldn't you rally for the Horde? Sure, the Undead and the Blood Elves are a little...unstable...but the Orcs are a solid people, as are the Tauren. The only Alliance race I have any respect for is the Dwarven. Night Elves are stuck up hypocritical prigs, Humans believe themselves righteous but behave like imbiciles, Gnomes are just plain obnoxious (and treat the land worse than any Horde culture), and the Draenei simply don't belong here. Why anyone informed would ever roll Alliance is beyond me, unless they like the epic tragedies linked with Arthas' life.

Pike said...

Wrynn sucks. I miss Bolvar. /cry

me said...

isn't that a bit dishonest? you tend to leave out the @The Orcs burned Stormwind and razed the human lands repeatedly@ which changes things completely.
Second, Thrall is very unsuccessful in maintaining the peace. I don't trust a leader that can't get his followers to obey him.

Third Varian was a slave to orcs.In his shoes you would not put much love towards them either.

Doesn't that look different now? And fuck that shit about Puttress betraying Sylvanas. They have been pursuing a new blight to end the living and the Scourge for years. Either Sylvanas didn't know, in which case she is a shit leader, or she did after all the Royal Apothecary Society is at her command and in that case the only betrayal is that Puttress choose to follow a new leader, but nonetheless the plan to kill EVERYTHING but the Forsaken was still there and endorsed by her.