Lordaeron, the northern crown of the Eastern Kingdoms. There's a lot of history here, more recent and raw than any other place. Lordaeron was a major setting for the story of Warcraft 3 and the effects are seen throughout. Once a bastion of humankind, Lordaeron is in a sad state. Nearly all its zones have suffered a malady of some kind. It is our task to catalogue them. Let's not waste any time.

Map of Eastern Kingdoms, Lordaeron circled
Right away there's trouble. The Thandol Span consists of two great bridges from the Wetlands to the Arathi Highlands. One of them has been blown up. Don't let that stop you from crossing it, there's a dwarf in there with a vital quest. On into the Highlands proper you'll find wild plains filled with fierce beasts. And also the ruins of civilisation. Stromgarde was once the center of the mightiest human empire, now it's ogre infested rubble. There are two settlements in Arathi. The Horde one is token reminder of the internment camps. The Alliance is a hole in the ground dug by the surviving humans. The only other features of note in Arathi are the great stone circles, mysterious in purpose and fiercely guarded by elementals. At the western edge, Thoradin's Wall separates Arathi. It is a land left to ruin.

Through the gate on Thoradin's wall you'll find Hillsbrad Foothills, a farmland under siege. Hillsbrad is one of the fiercest fighting locations between the the Horde and Alliance. In Stranglethorn the land lends itself to ambush tactics. The open plains of Hillsbrad on the other hand are perfect for armies to march to war. The battle is encouraged by the fact that young Horde players are led here and given quests to kill and attack the Alliance strongholds, while the Alliance generally arrive at later levels and their quests lead them right past the main Horde settlement. The time lost fighting back and forth between Southshore and Tarren Mill goes beyond counting. Hillsbrad blends overmuch with its northerly cousin zone and indeed in later expansions the two were combined together.

Alterac Mountains that cousin of Hillsbrad, lost and alone. Alterac sits uncomfortably between Hillsbrad, Silverpine and the plaguelands, blending into all of them. There are a few sights to see here, the ruin of Dalaran is spectacular in its promise of what is to come. Alterac, is a sad ruin broken by the Syndicate and ogres. unfortunately that means it's just Stromgarde in the snow. Unless you're a rogue you'll probably never even stop here, simply passing through on the way to Chillwind Camp. It seems the developers couldn't decide what to do with the place and they got rid of it in Cataclysm.

A narrow pass from Hillsbrad will take you to the Hinterlands. This verdant realm is possibly the last unspoiled realm in Lordaeron. Home to the Wildhammer dwarves, Aerie Peak is where the gryphons of the Alliance are born and bred. The Hinterlands is home to all sorts of creatures though, not least being the numerous forest trolls. The Revantusk are one small tribe sheltered on the eastern coast in a tenuous alliance with the Horde. All others are hostile, striking from the vast and confusing city of Jintha'Alor, and their smaller temples. There are a few quests that might take you here, all to do with the trolls and the shadow of Hakkar. Jintha'Alor in particular is an exciting if often lethal adventure. Quel'Danil Lodge is one of the few remaining high elf holdouts, overlooking a beautiful lake and waterfall. Like Feralas, the Hinterlands is a cool breeze, refreshing on this journey.

Tirisfal Glades is the former seat of Lordaeron, the chief human nation. Now, it's a darkened, dying place filled with graveyards and Forsaken. The undead are in charge here, ruling from their seat of Undercity. However they have few encampments outside the towns of Brill and Deathknell. Much of Tirisfal is prey to wandering zombies and the fanatical Scarlet Crusade. North lies Brightwater Lake a picturesque locale if you can avoid the demonhounds. Further on again lies the seat of Crusade power, the Scarlet Monastery. An admittedly impressive feat of architecture it's kept clean by the human army, though that shouldn't prevent mid level adventurers from exploring its corridors. Scarlet Monastery was one of the most popular dungeons of its time due to the winged nature. Looking back however I don't remember much that was exciting about it, apart from the final fight in the Cathedral. The Bulwark is the last feature of note in Tirisfal. A fortified location it holds off the Scourge of the Plaguelands. Resist the urge to cross it. The Scourge are hungry.

Travelling west brings you to Silverpine Forest. It continues the theme of Tirisfal with the woods growing denser and the creatures fouler. Here you can experience a first taste of the Worgen and eventually work your way down to their seat of power. Silverpine most closely resembles Darkshore in theme and geography. There are overrun farms to the north, with still living settlements south past the Sepulcher. The two largest features are the two keeps Fenris and Shadowfang. Fenris Keep is a swim through Lordamere Lake to an island infested with undead gnolls. It is run by a wizard whose head you'll take as part of the quest to drive the undead back. Shadowfang is planted on the western coast and constitutes an entire dungeon. Overlooking Pyrewood Village it is run by the Worgen led by yet another wizard, Arugal. If you're done killing all those wizards you may find the Greymane Wall, locked and barred to forbid access to one of the last human nations, Gilneas.

But its time to step beyond the Bulwark. The Western Plaguelands are the domain of the Scourge. Blighted and benighted the former settlements of men are ubiquitous and in ruin. Scourge Cauldrons festoon every farm, spitting their poison into the sky. Along the southern edge lies Andorhal, levelled by a liche and his entourage. The battles here can quickly turn nasty as Alliance and Horde collide with the same goals in mind. Further east is Caer Darrow, a ghost stricken ruin turned into a school of necromancy. Scholomance is one of the toughest dungeons of the original game and the runs were often tight and deadly. The northern plaguelands are no more welcoming. The Scarlet Crusade enclave of Hearthglen rests here and you'll find few willing to venture into it.

But it gets worse. For across the bridge lies theEastern Plaguelands. This place most accurately depicts a domain under the Scourge. Everything is diseased and dying. Undead roam freely and often in packs. The land itself is scarred, deep fissures that are filled with rotting slime. The Scourge heartland is filled with their enclaves. From the Fungal Vale, to the Noxious Glade and culminating in the twisted Plaguewood. Their ziggurats dot the skyline here but none so much as the burning hell that is Stratholme. Once a shining jewel of civilisation. Stratholme was burnt to the ground to destroy its plagued citizens. It didn't work. The Scourge owns it these days and they keep the streets aflame in their war with the Scarlet Crusade. If you want a taste of life under the Crusade, head to Tyr's Hand. Lastly, Terrorweb Tunnel offers a quick access to and from Stratholme, if you can survive the endless Nerubian onslaught.

But what's this? A route through the mountains north? The Eastern Kingdoms aren't finished, as we'll see next week.

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