Friday, July 6, 2012

Maps, Guilds, The Story-based Existence of All of the Above

This originally was posted as part of email correspondence with friends, and details the RP/in character justification for the Waypoint guild in a storyline that runs only in my head.

Head canon, if you will.

Presented unedited, except for this preamble, the story is shared.

Visper, for a long ass time, my Draenei DK whom for a very long time was my main, was a paladin in life - she smote the Burning Legion, fought to defend Shattrath against the orcs, and after coming to Azeroth aligned with the Argent Dawn to fight the Scourge because the BL did their best biblical begatting with zombies all up ins.

Then she died because Reasons. Then she undied, because Other Reasons. (tl;dr, "rawr I fight zombies in spite of bleeding to death" "oh noes!" "oh no I bleed to death" "Hey this draenei thing is new. Fel, grab her, she can be a DK too I guess") This is all important, bear with me.

In life, Visper led a group of... well... not soldiers out of Shattrath, about the same time as the short story "Unbroken" ( ) - women, children, and most importantly (to her) her sister, Karanina. I'd talked a bit about Kara being "in with the wrong crowd" - think the socialite Haris Pilton - and this is important because instead of being a good elder sister and raising Kara, Visper is very "throw myself into work" - in this case, cartography.

After the sacking of Shattrath, those same maps she made allowed them to evade Orc war parties for whatever interminable period of time happened between then and the Exodar fleeing.

The Wrath. Visper gets all DK-ish. Northrend war efforts. Etc., etc. Was present in ICC's siege, and notable among Alliance military for using the corpses of Alliance and Horde military to stymie Deathbringer Saurfang long enough for a concentrated army to kill the orc DK, earning herself a military discharge for her efforts publicly because "The Alliance did what it had to, but using our fallen as meat shields is too far!"

Which is pretty okay by Visper's standpoint because "Holy crap, my last INFINITES OF MILLENIA have been running from death, fighting to the death, being dead, and fighting the dead who were death incarnate." (being super freaking tired of skirmishes is the IC reason Visper doesn't PVP)

So, a new purpose, a new time, a new life, what skillset (that doesn't involve killing) does Visper have? Well, maps.

Drawing on actual REAL LIFE HISTORY, the competition for ownership rights of things beyond the Mississippi River was determined between Spain, Britain and the U.S. by... having the most accurate, complete maps. As such, there would always be demand of better detailed maps in Azeroth for people like Cynwise to plot battleground strategies, or for folks like Brann Bronzebeard to detail what he found, or... you get the point.

It's small, not a big deal for a while. Modest success, as Waypoint maps start circulating slowly, because of a reluctance to embrace the Gnomish printing press.

Then Deathwing eats Azeroth. The old maps, from prior to his breaking the world are suddenly way out of date. Even the best maps of the time don't account for all the changes in the world. Suddenly, there's a demand. A demand for high quality, high detail maps.

A small operation like Waypoint can't handle that, so "holy crap we need to hire people." All sorts of people, from all walks of life. "Can you draw a map? Can you draw a map that is detailed, and others can follow to find places and things you've mapped? Then when you're in Stormwind, we've got a cot with your name on it, couple meals a day, maybe a bit of gold in your bag if you bring back a good map."

(Pausing story to say this is why the lowbies matter in Waypoint's -Story- - every map brought back refines, reforges old maps. Higher detail through repetitive mapping, creating higher quality maps. "I'm level 10 in WSG and what is this" No, you're on the Ashenvale battlefield against the invading Orcish hordes, try and sketch your location while you're out there, k thx)

The organization grows based on this conceit because "Hey, all I have to do is draw pretty pictures of where I am, and I get free room and board in Stormwind, sign me up!" but also Visper starts a little something on the side, a little bit of recreational hunting. There are dragons out there, big and nasty with gnashing teeth. It'd be nice to be able to hang their fang up in the guild hall, wouldn't it? (Waypoint's raid team story is here. Recreational saviors of Azeroth, what what)

Dragon Soul isn't just a "raid team" affair, it's a concerted effort by all of Azeroth that can be spared - the entirety of the Waypoint guild commits itself to fighting Deathwing and the Twilight Hammer, from multiple vantage points in Northrend (some of the paladins may have been out of the Argent Tournament Grounds, for example, mages from Dalaran, some may have shipped from the southern coast of Dragonblight, etc.) 

And with Deathwing's er. Death. Numbers of Waypoint have gone missing, either because they went MIA for being thrown off DW's back, or because afterward they're like "NOPE.JPEG" and boogied off to who knows where. But, see, the Horde hostilities have started flaring up. Flaring up A LOT. Waypoint can't afford to be complacent, if it's cartographers are going to be mapping the world - because, uh. We need maps of Durotan and the like too. Soon. Pay high coin for a good map of Orgrimmar, for example, or insider information as to what is exactly going on in the Undercity now. (story hook for PVP focused players) 

And, rumors have it of this new continent in the mists, a future land of resources, of bounty. Of opportunity. And if the Horde and Alliance want it, they're sending cartographers first, to see what exactly the country is all about. (5.0 story hook)

Basically, using the organization's structure as a vague "this is what is possible" it allows for a lot of different character types to tell their own story without feeling tied down to the organization as total. Even having a way to "touch base" with Stormwind is solid, too, beyond mailing their factors to work with the Auction House. 

1 comment:

  1. I really like player-driven stories (RP, fanfic) that tries to explore what guilds would really BE in Azeroth. How does a society cope with the massive number of super powerful beings that it has?

    I imagine that many of them are contracted for defense or are Private Military Corporations hired to help war efforts. Others may be hired by groups like the Argent Crusade to assist in the clearing out of scourge (in return they get what the find and a nice bonus (quest rewards) if they're successful).

    Others I see trying to claim land of their own to establish real businesses off of.

    So I really like the idea that Waypoint exists to map out the new world.