Hallow’s End is Coming!

Well another year, another stretch of holiday festivals. Starts with Labor day, then Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Although in some places they may celebrate holidays sooner or later, and some might be performed differently like Hanukkah, but they all seem to have a similarity of sorts here and there. In the World of Warcraft perspective there is no Labor Day, but they do have Brewfest, and right after that they have what’s called Hallow’s End, which is their version of Halloween.

Now they used to have this thing with the holiday achievements where if you complete all the meta achievements for the holidays, you get the violet proto-drake mount, which is a sort of flying dragon, and it used to award the player with Master Riding for free. Now you can still complete the achievement “What A Long, Strange, Trip It’s Been,” and it will still give you the Violet Proto-drake, but it no-longer will reward you with the top level of flying skill, so now we have to buy that level.

It costs 5000 gold to be able to buy the Artisan Riding, which lets you ride flying mounts at 280% speed, and Master riding costs the same amount of gold and increases your flight speed to 310%. An extra 30% for 5k gold is a bit much in my opinion and I never bought it for that much either. Instead I did all the holiday achievements on every character in the game I had, and once they got the Violet Proto-Drake, they get the extra 30% flight speed for free. Now though, it doesn’t do that anymore. So I don’t know if I’ll be doing all the achievements over again on my alternate characters this year.

SO! Anyway!If you’re thinking to yourself what should I focus on the Hallow’s End this year, let’s see what we can come up with. 

Hallow’s End is based on Halloween, and usually runs for two weeks up until Halloween. Now Halloween itself is a holiday based of of Samhain, which is a wiccan holiday that symbolizes the end of the year when they’d collect their harvest just before the winter season. In World of Warcraft, the slight similarity can be seen at the wickermen festivals. On the alliance side, the Wickerman will be ignited my Genn Greymane, the leader of the Worgen who joined the Alliance during the Cataclysm. The Worgen brought along their traditions of the Wickerman festival. Meanwhile on the Horde side of things, the Forsaken (who were humans once but are now undead) mark Hallow’s End as the time when this group of undead broke free from the Scourge and became known as the Forsaken, and they burn the wickerman as a celebration for regaining their free will and they smear ashes on their faces.

One of the more fun things to do is fighting the shade of the Headless Horseman. Yeah you heard me! The Headless Horsemen (also termed HH in the game) makes an appearance in World of Warcraft. His horse is black with hooves that glow green, similar to the warlock’s summonable horses, and the rider himself is headless, yet he still can be heard yelling as he assaults the villages. Players who complete the Fire Brigade quests, which teaches you how to use the water buckets, can summon the HH to come and try to burn down the village. The HH will fly around, cackling and taunting and yelling the usual speech that I have come to memorize: “Prepare yourselves, the bells have tolled. Shelter your weak. your young and your old. Each of you shall pay the final sum! Cry for mercy, the reckoning has COME HAH-hahahahahahahaha!”

When you hear that, you know he’s coming. Click on the big bucket of water and then run to wherever you can see fire on the buildings and use the bucket to throw it at the buildings. But be careful, and be fast, because the fires tend to spark and spread, and if left unchecked it can cover the entire rooftops of the buildings. Now most players who have a speed buff, like shaman with ghost wolf form, druids with travel form, rogues with sprint and etc., can probably do this without help. But sometimes you might have to for a relay. When you pick up a bucket of water, you don’t have to throw it at the building – you can actually throw it to another player, so one method of doing this is to designate a spot to throw the buckets of water at, and while one player stays by the main bucket to get the pails of water, another player stands as far away as they can. They’ll have to be in reach of the throw distance for the pail of water though, so forming a group and using ground raid markers can help. The player by the bucket and click on it to get a pail of water, and then throw it at the designated spot, and if the player at that targeted location is here and does not have a bucket in their bags, they will catch the water pail and will be able to throw it to yet another player or onto the building. This can create a relay that helps get the water buckets to people standing at strategic points around the village which can help get the fires down faster. If you find yourself in a situation where you fail repeatedly to save the village from the fires, consider forming a party and coordinating a relay to throw water pails. Sometimes it takes more teamwork to get the fires under control. Once you have saved the village, the HH will come down and you can try to kill him. Once that is done, a large pumpkin will appear on the ground in the center of the  village, and every player will have the chance to smash the pumpkin and get loot out of it.

The rewards from putting out the fires (which is a daily quest) is a crudely wrapped gift, which players can open to receive a random prize. Mostly you might get candy or flimsy masks, but you do have the rare chance to get the Sinister Squashling pet or the Hallowed Helm, which is a low level head item that looks as though you have a jack o’ lantern on your head.

There is an item that is not bound on pickup (I must have dozens of these on my bank toon), and is more for vanity and fun than anything. It is used for an achievement called, “Check your head,” in which you target a player and click on the item in your bags (or set it to your action bar.) The Weighted Jack-o-lantern is what you use, and when you throw it to your target, they appear to have a jack-o-lantern on their heads. It’s a buff that can be removed manually from players if they wish, and the achievement requires throwing this item onto each race in the game, like onto one Dwarf, one Tauren, one Gnome, etc. Now Goblins and Worgen were added to the criteria way back when, and I have no word yet if you need to throw one onto a player who is a Pandaren, but you might as well! No reason to exclude them! ^-^ I’d say make them check their heads, just to be safe. So in a sense, you can give everyone the appearance of wearing the Hallowed Helm for a time, but for the achievement, you might wind up traveling to neutral cities or to the enemy capitals and hanging around outside to try and throw these things onto the players of the other faction. Good luck, especially if you are on a pvp realm. Another place to try this achievement is on the battlegrounds. Before you go to grab the flag, throw the pumpkin on the enemy player, and there you go!

Other things to do for this holiday is talking to the inn keepers. Once every hour, you can ask them “trick or treat” and you’ll get either a bag of  treats, or a trick played on you where your character can get turned into a bat or a cat or some other odd thing for hallow’s end. The “trick” debuff only lasts several seconds though, and then you can can wait an hour to trick or treat again. Also scattered in taverns and inns all across Azeroth and Outlands are Candy buckets. You can visit all of these and click on them to get a handful of candy, and also get a chance for the rare items like the pet or helm.

So for all levels of the game, even low level players, you can do the daily quests for smashing the pumpkin after you put out the fires, and that can be done in any of the following villages: Alliance sideGoldshire, Kharanos, Azure Watch. Horde sideRazor Hill, Brill, Falconwing Square. Players can also go trick or treating by talking to the inn keepers, and they can visit every inn that has a candy bucket and get a handful of candy from each of them. Bear in mind when you get a handful of candy, you have to open it to loot the candy/items before you can grab another handful.

As for the max level characters, at level 89-90 you can join the dungeon finder and cue up for a run in the Scarlet Monastery. Considering the fact that they revamped the entire instances, making the 4 dungeons into 2, thus combining some of the wings together for simplicity’s sake, it makes me wonder about the good ol’ HH. Before now, you would go into the Graveyard portion of the instance and click on the grave of the Headless Horseman to start the encounter. In this 5 man fight, the Headless Horseman fight is the usual tank and spank, but at some point he gets off his horse and walks about is if dazed or stunned, and he yells, “GET OVER HERE, YOU IDIOT!” (that phrase is a nice macro I sometimes use on my Death Knight’s Death Grip ability.) When this happens, you need to switch targets to his head, which can be seen somewhere nearby floating about on it’s own. Once the head dies, it goes right back onto the HH’s body and the fight resumes as normal. Usually, the head phase occurs three times. Once he’s dead, you get the achievement, “Bring Me The Head Of… Oh, Wait.”

Now the best thing is, the HH has a chance to drop the flying horse mount, which looks just like the one the HH uses, and shares a model along with the horse that drops in Karazhan, only this horse is all black with glowing green hooves, and acts as a flying mount if you have the skill, and at level 90 you should! ^-^ Nowadays though the mount is account bound, so if you have an alt that got the HH mount in previous years, log onto it even if only just for a moment, and then all your characters who has a riding skill can use this mount.

The only other reason to go for this holiday boss would be because he drops rings, and hopefully this year they’ll have it all completely updated. Not only do they need to update the boss to accommodate the new instance they revamped it into, but they’ll need to make sure the rings can be used by players who are at max level. Other wise there won’t be much reason to go for this holiday boss unless people want the mount.

We shall see soon enough. Hallow’s End starts in a few days, so I’ll be there to see these changes, if any! See ya there! ^-^

Edit: actually just now saw their website come back online. They’re half a step ahead of me, looks like the HH fight will be up to par with the expansion. I didn’t see the loot, but hopefully the rings will be worthwhile! http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/blog/6180725/


One Crazy Week

(Told from the Khajiit’s point of view, my character Amaki’Dar, in Skyrim)

The forgemaster is dead, long live Amaki’Dar, Forgemaster of the Aetherium Forge! I claim this place in the name of moonsugar!

Well, I managed to get to the last Aetherium shard and I found out where the forge was. It was hidden deep underground, far deeper than any place I had been to yet, and the forge itself had several defense systems in store. The moment I arrived there was steam everywhere, and I had to turn two wheels to shut that down. That triggered the machinery. Mechanical spiders and the like came out, and I had to cut them down. Then the largest of them all, a centurion, came out of the lava, much to my amazement, but I managed to make that one fall to pieces.

At last we shut down the steam and got to work on the forge. It meant destroying the key I had with me, and all those Aetherium shards I had collected, but now that the forge was opened, there was no need for it, and the Aetherium itself was very rare indeed. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to find any more of it. So I had the option of forging one of three items. One was a head piece that would let me have two standing stone blessings at once. It sounds nice, but it would mean giving up my helmet and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that (in order for the two standing stone blessings to work you have to have this head piece on). The other was a shield that could turn enemies ethereal for 15 seconds when they are bashed so they cannot harm me and I cannot harm them. Sounds like a nice tactic but I’m an archer, and I sometimes wield daggers or swords in close combat. Shields is a bit harder to do. So I passed on that. The last thing is a staff that would summon a Dwemer Spider or Sphere for 60 seconds. Sounds like fun! I go ahead and make that.

And I still haven’t used it.

In between the last shard and the forge however, I made a visit to a new city, or old one anyway. Riften has a sinister reputation, from what I’ve heard. It’s supposed to be home to the thieves guild. Being a grave robber and tomb raider myself, I figured, what difference would it make? As I approach, the city guard tells me to I have to pay the visitor’s tax, which I didn’t pay as I told the guard this had to be a shakedown. He told me to keep my voice down and he let me inside the city with no charge.

I walk past some locals who say they had a run-in with the thieves guild, and I pass one guy who looks like a bouncer for a bar and I manage to bribe him to get more information. Turns out a family called the Black-Briars have Riften in their pocket, and they run the thieves guild and have good contacts with the Dark Brotherhood (which is a group of assassins). 

I go into the inn, and a man named Brynjolf, who owned a potions stand in the marketplace. Turns out he was one of the higher members of the thieves guild looking for new members. He asks me to steal a silver ring and plant it on another person, and I do so easily without getting caught. Brynjolf thinks this looks promising and  decides to extend membership to the guild. Once I got in good with them, I went to Goldenglow estate to clear out the safe and burn down three (out of six) bee hives. Turns out there was a bill of sale in the safe along with a  little gold, and I bring it to Brynjolf. This doesn’t look good, and then I go see Maven Black-Briar, who sends me to Whiterun to help take over Honningbrew Meadery. Short version of that story is it’s now being converted to the Black-Briar Meadery West. And yet before I did the Honningbrew Meadery job, I met a man named Sam who challenged me to a drinking contest. I won, but woke up in Markarth after a night I couldn’t remember. I ended up traveling all across Skyrim following a trail of clues to find Sam, because he owed me a staff for winning that drinking contest. Eventually I found him, and it turns out Sam is Sanguine, the Deadric Prince of Debauchery. Knowing I was dealing with an immortal and very powerful being, I didn’t dare insult him or get angry with him. He wound up giving me the staff I had been looking for, and then sending me back to the tavern in Whiterun! “Now… where was I? Oh yeah, Honningbrew… right.”

Along the way I take on small jobs to pick locked safes in shops and change the numbers in their record books, all of which profits the thieves guild. I found a golden honeybee statue in Goldenglow estate, and a golden beehive stature in Honningbrew. Both of these items are on display that the thieves guild HQ, though I wish they were still mine and that I could have a trophy curio cabinet to put them in. Oh well. I got good gold for those items anyway.

Pardon me. Do you have any Gray Poupon?

I took the jump off the Bard’s Leap and lived to see a ghost congratulate me. I also spot the Headless Horseman… this is the third time I’ve seen him actually, which is sort of creepy. He’s pretty easy to spot in the distance, and up close you can plainly see that he head is gone. He never stops or says anything. Maybe one night if I see him again I might try to chase him. But it’s hard to do that on foot. over 10,000 gold pieces and I don’t have a horse. My feet are killin’ me!

At one point I had to go to Solitude to do several things. Firstly I had to speak to an Argonian who had ties to the thieves guild, and see if he can tell us the person who’s been buying our customers. I manage to persuade him to tell me as much as he can but he won’t give me the name of the buyer. He eventually leaves, and I tail him all the way down into the warehouse for a big trading company. He winds up going down into a series of caverns where I discover bandits that are smuggling goods out of the company… So… turns out our Argonian friend is a very naughty lizard. I manage to get to him and he comes clean, telling me that the buy was Karliah. I then learn that she used to be in the thieves guild, but had killed the previous guild master and was on the run. Now armed with that info, and a vague clue of where she currently is, I return to solitude to do another job.

The second job I had to do was talk to a wood elf, who would smuggle my things into the Thalmor Embassy for me. Meanwhile I’d go into the Embassy through the front door as a party guest. I came face-to-face with Elenwen, who seems to be the leader of the high elven group. I manage to avoid giving her my name and I seek out a patron to chat with. One person is Maven Black-Briar, but I avoid her. No need to let people know we’re connected via the Thieves Guild, but I do wonder what she’s doing here. I shrugged my shoulders and moved on. I saw that the Jarl Idgrod Ravencrone was there, and I’m Thane of Hjaalmarch, so I ask her to cause a distraction, which she agrees to, saying “an old woman can get away with anything!” I wish I could stay and listen/watch what goes on during the distraction, but I had a job to do. If I could, I’d have started a food fight. Instead I slip into the kitchens and head through the backdoor and start to infiltrate the embassy. My job: to find out what the Thalmor know about the dragons returning.

Turns out they knew nothing at all. Then I looked into some of their info-books, and I saw they had books on Ulfric Stormcloak and on Delphine. They don’t knwo where Delphine is, and as far as Ulfric is concerned, it seems the Thalmor would prefer that the civil war remains the way it is now. They don’t want an imperial victory, but a rebel victory is also to be avoided. Hmmm! So the Thalmor don’t care who wins in Skyrim, as long as the war remains stagnate. Maybe I’ll go kill that ice wraith and join up with the Stormcloaks. I’d rather join them instead of the Imperials any day, considering that the Imperials planned to chop of my head on day one!

I go down into the dungeons and find that the Thalmor were torturing a prisoner for information, and it was a member of the thieves guild. The Thalmor now know there is a Blades agent in the Ratway, the underground area of Riften. I save the thief, being one myself, and rescue him. The wood elf who helped smuggle my things in is caught, and i saved him as well. Now the Thalmor will be after him for the rest of his life. Well… now’s a great time to travel the world, always be on the move! Haha.

I tell Delphine about Esbern, the other Blades agent in the ratway, and I go and save him. Once these two are reunited, they tell me about Alduin’s Wall, which is a wall carving that contains history and prophesy. It showed that Alduin was defeated once before, and that the warriors who brought him down used a shout. I don’t know which shout it is yet, but I’m hoping I’ll find it.

Before I return to the Greybeards though, I join up with the Companions. I’m a werewolf now. A Khajiit werewolf. A cat that turns into a dog. Go figure!

So yeah… lots of stuff going on. Whew!

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