Thursday, March 29, 2012

[Non-WoW] The Invisible Enemy

This isn't a WoW post. This is something that I feel needs to be said, and this is the largest audience that I can reach at this time.

I knew Abel Gutierrez. He was a good man, and a good soldier. We called him "Guty". He never complained about what was going on, no matter how stupid the brass was getting. He never caused any confrontations; he was always polite. He was a good athlete, a good shot, and possessed both a sound tactical mind and a strong work ethic. Whenever some lousy detail cropped up, he was the first to volunteer to take care of it, without complaint, regardless of the fact that his rank would allow him to slide that work onto the newer soldiers. He always pulled more than his share of the load. Every unit he served in was a better place while Guty was there. He was not the first friend that I lost, not in a warzone, but to the stresses of returning to life at home. It is my most profound fear that he might not be the last.

I know this is a cliche, but unlike the rest of the world, that is how I will remember him. For all my cynicism and arrogance, I can't let whatever darkness claimed his final hours to obscure the years of great service that he gave this country, and my unit. I couldn't live with my self if I was the kind of person who could.

Being an infantryman in wartime is the most difficult job in the world. The country asks these men to bear a burden that no one should have to shoulder. We do it because someone has to, but we should never do it alone. The Army, and the nation at large, owes it to these soldiers to do everything within its power to help them deal with the inevitable wounds that wartime service inflicts, both the physical trauma that a soldier suffers when his limbs are torn away by the enemy's bombs, and the mental trauma that comes from coping with such a drastic change from the mundane existence of a citizen in a first world nation. We all struggle with our demons; we all fight that invisible enemy; there is no shame in that struggle.

However, something is amiss. Before Guty came to my unit, he served with the 2nd Infantry Division on Fort Lewis. As I'm sure anyone who watched the news can attest, that's the same posting as SSG Robert Bales, the man accused of the recent massacre of Afghani civilians. For those with a sharper memory, the troubles pile up. The Afghanistan "kill team" a few years back were also soldiers on Fort Lewis. A Mount Rainier Park Ranger was killed by a Ft. Lewis Soldier a couple months ago. A recently discharged Ft. Lewis veteran shot and killed a police officer in Utah. There's a string of suicides, murders, and abuses that have taken place on Ft. Lewis.

While there has been an increase in suicides and crime rates on bases across the country, rightfully attributed to the increased stress of a wartime operating tempo and the relaxed standards of entry allowing soldiers who would have otherwise never made it through MEPS into the military, not only does Fort Lewis stand out among its fellow Active Duty postings, but when you begin to factor in events involving the Washington, Oregon, and Idaho National Guard, it begins to seem like the Pacific Northwest has become the epicenter of post deployment tragedies.

These events have involved soldiers from nearly every unit in the region, from 2ID, to 2nd Ranger Battalion, to the 41st Brigade Combat Team in Oregon. They're too disparate to pin the blame on unit leadership. There is, however, one common denominator linking each of these tragic acts.

Every soldier in the region routes through Madigan Army Medical Center for their health evaluation to determine what level of treatment they require, and weather or not they're capable of continued service, and if not, what level of disability they're accorded. They are the front line for America's responsibility to the troops, and they are failing, inexcusably so.

There's something rotten at Madigan. William Keppler, the Chief of the Department of Mental Health at Madigan has been quoted as advising his subordinates to "be good stewards of the public's money" and informed them that a diagnosis of PTSD would cost the government $1.5 million dollars in treatment and disability over the course of the service member's life. The mental health team at Madigan overturned 285 confirmed diagnoses of PTSD. Soldiers with 100% disability, who were living in inpatient programs to attempt to control their wounds were turned out with the stroke of a pen, and then couldn't even secure a face to face appointment with the physician who denies them the treatment that they need, that they deserve, that they are owed. Lives have been destroyed by this, not just soldiers, but the lives of their families, and even those of people who had nothing to do with this situation. Park rangers, and police officers, and children. But hey, at least they saved 427.5 million dollars! I've never been ashamed of my service, of what the uniform I wear represents, but this disgusts me.

To my fellow infantrymen, you beautiful sons of bitches, know this: You are not alone. No matter how dark things feel, no matter how bad things seem, you are never alone. Your enemies mass against you. The guilt that gnaws at the back of your mind. The anger that drives you against your will. The despair that seems like it will swallow you whole. Your courage will stand with you. Hope will illuminate the darkest nights. Your pride will push you to victory. Although, be mindful of that last one. Use your pride to keep you beholden to a higher standard. Do not allow it to drive away those that would help you. You need everyone weapon you can get in this fight, but pride has two edges.

The Army has taught us to attack the enemy with overwhelming force, both with superior firepower, and superior numbers. This fight is no different. Your friends will stand with you. Your family is there for you. Your brothers in arms will watch over you. Don't turn them away.

The fight is long. That invisible enemy is patient. He will strike when you are feeling at your weakest. But you will always have resources. If you're feeling particularly low, the VA will help you. The Vet Center will help you. There are councilors waiting 24/7 in every state to help you through your crisis. Win this fight.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Siege Addendum: Mistakes of Futures Past

Sometimes, they just don't learn. Some things are like watching a cheap horror movie where everyone repeats the exact same mistakes that got everyone else killed in the previous movie. No, you can't keep your loved one around now that s/he's a zombie, they'll just break loose and eat everybody. No, the bathroom is not the safest place to run from a slasher killer, there's only one way in or out, you'll die in that bathtub. But do they learn? No. They seem like they learn, but they have the memory span of a goldfish, and they constantly repeat the same hackneyed plot scripts with a fresh coat of paint on them.

WoW's story telling is quickly devolving to that level. In the wake of the NDA on the MoP press release, and a shockingly quick turnaround to Beta, there's been a lot of information getting put out. I already spoke about the Siege of Orgrimmar, what it represents, what its flaws are, and what Blizzard should avoid to really fuck things up.
If the raid devolves into "Help Thrall defeat Garrosh!" for Alliance players, then it would be, as I said earlier, the death knell for the Alliance as a interesting faction, they'd be nothing more than foils to help propel Green Jesus to greater glory. It's an incredibly demoralizing prospect.
This was something that Blizzard seemed to have picked up upon during the massive discontent at the direction of the story during patch 4.2. Dave Kosak wrote a blog post attempting to address the discontent, writing most of it off as a byproduct of good storytelling *snicker* There was one thing that made me thing that they had at least an inkling of the actual root of the problem.
If you’re a die-hard Alliance player, I can understand if you feel left out of Thrall’s story arc. Thrall feels like “their guy,” and Thrall’s journey over the last couple of years may not feel like “your” story, even if his mistakes are about to send the whole world into a potential death spiral. Fair enough. Stick with Thrall as he fulfills his destiny at the end of Cataclysm, and I promise we’ll catch up with other characters -- from both factions -- as we pick up the pieces in the aftermath.
So, just tough it out until the end of Cata, and then the focus will be off of Thrall, and onto other characters. Ok, you're asking for a mulligan. Make use of it.

Back to this week, and the flood of information showing that Garrosh was being deposed, and rampant speculation as to who would take the reigns of the Horde. The usual cries for a basic campfire were thrown around, and a lot of people thought that Vol'jin would be a good choice given the foreshadowing from the Troll starting zones where Vol'jin swore that the last thing Garrosh would feel would be Vol'jin's arrow piercing his heart. Others mentioned Overlord Saurfang, Garrosh's mentor in Northrend, who swore to kill Garrosh himself if he began to lead the Horde back down the dark paths that led to their downfall on Draenor. That speculation ended very quickly when Machinima Realm released a video of an interview with J. Allen Brack, WoW producer, who explicitly stated that players are fighting to restore Thrall as the Warchief.

There's another, someone less high profile source that has also been putting out information. At Blizzcon 2010, someone caught Alex Afrasiabi and Chris Metzen in a continuity error on the lore panel for the upcoming Cataclysm expansion. This led to an alteration on the Beta, and ultimately live servers, an that person became a wow celebrity, with his own avatar in game. He's known as the Red Shirt Guy, after the shirt he wore when he caught Blizzard at their own convention. Among the perks he received was a personal interview with Chris Metzen on the path of lore in the upcoming expansion. Now that the Beta has opened up, he's been open about some of the things Metzen told him about. He asked about who gets to kill Garrosh in Mists, and Metzen's quote was "Garrosh's been a bad boy, and Thrall's gonna have to give him a spanking."

*Sigh* Really? This whole expansion, this whole story arc that's been brewing since Burning Crusade is going to culminate in Thrall, again. People didn't like it in Cataclysm, when he was ostensibly, neutral. How bad are you going to have to warp the story to make the Alliance feed into the idea of replacing Garrosh with Thrall and being ok with it? Everything involving the Horde or Alliance directly in the past two expansions is being thrown away for the greater glory of Go'el, just like Staghelm's narrative was chucked aside to puff that orc up a bit more. Cairne's death, Vol'jin's animosity, Saurfang's guilt, Ashenvale, Turajo, King Wrynn's return and rehabilitation, the destruction of Theramore, the Siege of Orgrimmar, the entire war between the Horde and Alliance, none of it matters as anything more than a plot device to allow Thrall to be painted as the messianic bringer of peace in addition to the World Shaman, Aspect of Earth, and the Once and Future Warchief.

Enough is enough. Most of the core of the story is already locked in. WoW is on rails that they can't leave at this point. But the Siege of Orgrimmar is still the final content patch of the expansion, it's at least 18 months away, and there's still time to fix the crescendo of this flawed song. Here's how:

There's several arcs that need to be wrapped up. I mentioned several of them. In order to establish the final raid, both factions have to have a reason for participating. Contrary to Blizzard's thinking, the Alliance actually doesn't need any more motivation to invade, they just need to do so. The content patches leading up to the Siege should feature the Alliance turning the tide and beginning the march towards Orgrimmar. Do not have them just show up overnight. Scenarios will be a powerful tool here, because they will allow the developers to play create additional content in certain zones that they would otherwise no longer attempt to overhaul again.

There needs to be at least three points on the road to Orgrimmar. First is the turning point. The Alliance needs to decisively defeat the Horde, and get them on the run. This could take place on Pandaria. Once the tide has been turned, the pursuit needs to be shown. With the destruction of Theramore, the Alliance two real roads to Orgrimmar, either from the North through Ashenvale, or from the South from Feralas. I prefer the second option, Feralas is closer to Pandaria, and Shandris Feathermoon's sentinel army has been begging for a real use. Show the might of the Alliance on the march, traveling across Feralas, towards thousand needles, where they will cross into the barrens. Horde resistance in this scenario should be guerrilla, tricking the Ogres of Dire Maul into attacking the Alliance flanks, blowing up the roads, and setting up traps. Once the army is established to be on the move, then the next stop is Orgrimmar, pretty easy.

Getting the Horde players to be willing to depose Garrosh is more difficult, especially trying to do so in a manner that doesn't just cut off the hanging plot lines. There needs to be something that Garrosh does that makes Horde players hate him. The answer, in my opinion, lies with his relationship with Varok Saurfang. After taking time to properly mourn the death of his son, Varok returns from Northrend to witness the destruction of Theramore, and as with the lion's share of the Horde military, he travels to fight over Pandaria. As he serves, and sees what Garrosh has created. After the Alliance routes them on Pandaria, Saurfang realizes how close Garrosh has become to the orcs like Orgrim, Blackhand, and Grom, who led the orcs to the brink of extinction, and decides to live up to the promise he made to both Garrosh and himself. He confronts Garrosh, who challenges him to Mak'gora. This mirrors the challenge laid down to Garrosh from Cairne during the Shattering. Garrosh defeats Saurfang, the student surpassing his master, and kills him, much to the outrage of the soldiers present. Saurfang was an old soldier who had served the Horde faithfully his whole life.

Seeing another dedicated elder of the Horde struck down by Garrosh in a duel resonates with Vol'jin and Baine Bloodhoof, who had watched Cairne die in the same manner, fighting for a last chance to keep the Horde away from the monstrosity that it has become. As the full fury of the Alliance reaches the walls of the Horde's capitol, Baine and Vol'jin decide that the time has come for their words to become actions, rather than merely speaking their discontent in shadowed halls, they rise up against the Warchief. In Orgrimmar, the heart of Garrosh's power, Baine and Vol'jin's rebellion is savagely persecuted, and with their backs against the wall, facing both the relentless shelling of the Alliance and the implacable blades of the Kor'kron, they resort to desperate measures. Baine throws open the main gates of Orgrimmar, allowing wrath of the Alliance to flood into the city, creating chaos. Garrosh and his Kor'Kron loyalists find themselves suddenly fighting street to street against two enemies, and the end of his reign is suddenly far closer than he could have ever imagined.

That's how I would like to see it done. It empowers the Alliance, and allows the Horde to reclaim a piece of what it once was while still evolving, rather than devolving into the complacent entity that it was under Thrall. I could flesh this scenario out for days, involving every race in both factions, but I just wanted to get the bare bones out there.

I mentioned that it wasn't too late to change the ending here. Here's how. Blizzard reads the forums. They know when you're angry about something. You lit the forums on fire when you were unhappy, and they responded. You didn't like Garrosh, so they're letting you kill him. Express your displeasure. There's already a thread on the official forums where people are expressing their irritation at this development, and Daxxari is actively asking people if they would rather see someone else as Warchief. Go post in that thread, make other threads discussing potential alterations that you'd like to see made. When those threads cap out, make new ones. Don't let it rest. Keep the fire alive.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Siege of Orgrimmar: A Roadmap for Failure

On March 19th, Blizzard lifted the NDA on the Mists of Pandaria press tour. It was already known that Blizzard intended to focus on factional conflict in the upcoming expansion, even more so than they did in prior expansions. Blizzard is continuing to paint themselves into a corner here, and one of the keystones of their presentation was the unveiling of the final raid of the expansion, The Siege of Orgrimmar. Apparently the final boss of the expansion that they weren't willing to reveal earlier in the process is going to be Garrosh Hellscream. We know a few things about the intended raid and its storyline, both factions will be involved, with King Wrynn leading the raid for Alliance players, and the end result will be the restoration of Thrall to the throne of the Horde. Some bloggers and many forum goers and commenters have mentioned their fears of this being a signal of Alliance favoritism. Spinks has a good post on her fears, you should read it. There are others who fear that it signals yet another expansion of Horde favoritism and Alliance marginalization. Both these groups have valid fears, there aren't many ways Blizzard can take this, a lot of people are going to be unhappy no matter what they do, and there's some major concerns that will need to be addressed to minimize the impact of this poor choice of plot arc on the overall narrative. I'm going to go over their fears, and lay out a blueprint for Blizzard to try and minimize the damage, as they are clearly too far into development to completely abort the story line.

It seems like the story is going to progress through Mists of Pandaria that Garrosh is going to come increasingly under the influence of a mysterious entity called the Sha. These creatures gain strength from negative emotions, such as doubt, and use that strength to corrupt those around them. Eventually, Garrosh is going to cross a threshhold, possibly the destruction of Theramore, possibly something hitting closer to home, such as the murder of Varok Saurfang, that will convince Thrall that it is time to remove Garrosh from the throne. That's the Horde side of the raid, the Alliance side is pretty much that they finally figure out that they're at war. I have a lot of issues with that set up, but I'll save those for when we have more information, or I'm particularly bored. The biggest fears at the moment are with regards to how the event itself will be handled and how the aftermath will go down.

Alliance players are afraid that this is going to be a rehash of the second half of Cataclysm, where it's nothing but "Save Thrall from his own angst!" and "Help Thrall become the Earth Warder!" and Alliance players are wondering why they're helping their sworn enemy. If the raid devolves into "Help Thrall defeat Garrosh!" for Alliance players, then it would be, as I said earlier, the death knell for the Alliance as a interesting faction, they'd be nothing more than foils to help propel Green Jesus to greater glory. It's an incredibly demoralizing prospect.

At the same time, Horde players are understandably upset at the prospect of an Alliance army, led by King Wrynn, smashing down the gates of their capitol city and butchering their leader. If an opponent can take your capitol and decapitate your leadership, then your nation is a step away from the dustbin of history. Spinks was worried that it could herald the annexation of the Horde into the Alliance in order to facilitate cross faction grouping in the expansion afterwards. While I find that notion unlikely, the fear of losing their unique perspective within the game is a very primal one.

Blizzard is walking the razor's edge here, and they don't even have a good reason for it. But I have some advice for them as to how they can avoid catastrophic alienation of either factions.

The first step, and admitedly, the most unlikely, is to scratch Thrall from the story. Either just put him on the first bus to Nagrand so he can raise his oddly colored children in peace, or, my personal favorite, have Garrosh kill him as the catalyst for the Horde players to rise up against him. Whatever you do, don't just put him back as Warchief and then carry on as if nothing happened. Doing that exposes Garrosh as nothing more than a cheap plot device to create the war that allows Thrall to come back as the messianic peacekeeper. The Horde then gets to deflect all the blame onto Garrosh, completely undermining any analysis of the foundation that the Horde is built upon. At its core, this path is tantamount to retconning away everything the Horde has done in Cataclysm. Nothing that happened would matter because it was "Garrosh's Horde".

Regardless of weather they keep with the decision to use Thrall as Garrosh's successor, or someone else, there's another thing that they need to keep in mind, faction segregation. Do not have the Alliance following the Horde leader around again. Do not have Horde players following King Wrynn around. You can have them meet up in an ICC gunship or ToC faction champs fight, but don't make them feel subordinate to the opposing faction. That's a recipe for discontent. Both factions need their own reasons for pushing after Garrosh, and their reasons have to be driving force within their instance.

One final tip. Do not make the impetus for Horde action be that Jaina went and cried to Thrall after the Horde smashes Theramore. That'll just piss everyone off.

As far as to how the Alliance is going to be convinced not to simply crush the Horde under its boot after they storm the streets of Orgrimmar, you're on your own there Blizz. I warned you this would be coming, and you really don't have a way out that doesn't involve some ridiculously hack writing.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Between Narration and Demonstration Lies the Flaws

I'm going to revisit the concept of neutral factions here. With the emphasis on Horde vs Alliance hostilities that began in Wrath, blossomed in Cataclysm, and has been promised to be even more prevalent in Mists of Pandaria, neutral factions wind up in an awkward position. Lines are being drawn, and tensions are rising, and while this marginalizes the importance of neutral factions, it also places a spotlight on how they react to the evolution of the world around them.

Neutral factions do not live in a vacuum. They exist in a tenuous position that is defined by the actions of the superpowers of their time, in this case, the Horde and the Alliance. Some neutral parties may try to straddle the line between the two, and maintain their neutrality, other parties may cast their lots in with one side or another, but everyone is going to be strained by it.

During WWII, both Switzerland and Sweden declared themselves neutral, but they felt the strain of the war raging around them. Switzerland gave economic concessions to the Nazis, allowed Jews to seek refuge within their borders, were forced to turn away many more as the numbers grew to large. They also shot down several nazi aircraft that violated their airspace, and forced many more to land and kept their crew prisoner until the cessation of hostilities. Switzerland paradoxically had to fight to maintain its neutrality. Sweden acted similarly, trading iron ore with the Nazis, but allowing 8,000 swedes to fight for Finland when Russia invaded. Many more nations, such as the United States, initially began the conflict as a neutral party, but as the war expanded in scope, were eventually forced to take a side in the conflict. Such is the way of neutrality, neutrality is maintained through action and reaction to the evolution of the situation around you.

Ultimately, in a fictional world, characters are expressed through two methods, narration and demonstration. Narration is being told what attributes a character has. Demonstration is being shown those attributes in action. In the majority of cases, to create a believable character, the two attributes must match. A character who is stated to be dangerously unhinged needs to do unhinged things. A character who cowers in the face of danger can't be built up as a brave man.

This is where Blizzard has failed spectacularly with regards to neutral factions thus far. Nearly every neutral faction has more or less acted in a vacuum. Despite a host of previously introduced factions being updated and brought into the current timeline, every neutral entity acts as if they existed within a bubble, completely oblivious to anything that happens outside of their demesnes. It doesn't matter if you murdered their god, murdered members of their organization, or are engaging in actions so foul to their beliefs that they were previously willing to travel across the world to hunt someone like you down, the neutral factions don't even so much as express their displeasure with a strongly worded letter.

Particularly egregious are the failures of the Cenarion Circle and the Argent Crusade in Cataclysm. Despite their previous actions, and vows, they completely ignore the developments in the storyline with regards to the factional conflict. The Cenarion Circle can kind of skate by with the whole "Hyjal is burning" schtick, but it still comes off as stilted. The Argent Crusade, on the other hand, has the Forsaken commiting atrocities across the street, and the Orcs murdering their agents in Kalimdor, and they're more concerned with clearing out gnolls, spiders, and one necromancer, all while admiring the brand new statue of Tirion they erected in Hearthglen. After Tirion promised that evil will never hide behind the shroud of politics on his watch, and he traveled across the world to strike at the heart of the Scourge, this new apathy doesn't suit him. The complacency of the Argent Crusade in this matter makes absolutely no sense.

There were a couple neutral organization that I thought was handled well in the Cataclysm story, the Knights of the Ebon Blade and the Zandalari Tribe.

The Knights of the Ebon Blade had one purpose, to bring ruin to the Lich King by whatever means necessary. Come Cataclysm, the Scourge has been by and large neutralized, and the death knights of Acherus find themselves without a purpose. When previously in this situation, Blizzard would leave them to rot in their expansion, *cough*Shattered Sun Offensive*cough*, but this time, Blizzard decided to come back to them. Rather than taking a side in the conflict, the Ebon Blade tore itself apart, with individual death knights taking sides in the conflict, as shown with Thassarian and Koltira in the conflict at Andorhal. There they brought the characters full circle when their previous associations began to color their actions in the battle, leading to Sylvanas taking Koltira down, and Thassarian, rather than stay in Andorhal to try and rally the Alliance forces, deserts the battlefield in an attempt to find his friend.

The Zandalari Tribe was introduced in Vanilla as a group of Trolls who sought to prevent the summoning of Hakkar the Soulflayer by the Gurubashi Trolls in Zul'Gurub. Once Hakkar was banished, they lay fallow for the next two expansions, until their return in patch 4.1. Seeing the threat that the increased belligerence of larger factions would devour the troll tribes piecemeal, the Zandalari sought to unite the troll tribes and establish a new troll empire that could stand against groups like the Horde, Alliance, and Scourge. Rather than remain blithely neutral, or pick a side, they opted to make a play for power on their own, going from a neutral faction to an enemy to both factions.

Both those factions were incorporated into the fabric of the storyline, they saw opportunity, or lost purpose, and shifted their actions accordingly. Other factions, however, were not so lucky. As a paladin main, I find the treatment the Argent Crusade got to be particularly egregious. Rather than reacting to new threats, they just sit in their town and ignore everything going on. While I truly enjoyed the role that the Argent Crusade and their offshoot, the Brotherhood of Light had in Eastern Plaguelands, in Western Plaguelands, where the story is defined by the battle at Andorhal, the Argent Crusade is overshadowed by the Ebon Blade and the Forsaken. After pushing through Andorhal, the segment of quests in Hearthglen seem less like an actual part of the story, and more like a cameo that hung around too long. All the T9 gear floating around, and the huge statue of Tirion, with no real substance just comes off as going "Hey! Remember ToC? Wasn't that awesome?" Did being frozen in a block of ice at Icecrown give Tirion such a brain freeze that he doesn't notice that his neighborhood is being engulfed in a necromantic war that threatens to undo all the work that Tirion has put into reclaiming the Plaguelands from the plague and blight that afflicts it?

Complacency has its place in the arsenal of characterization, but only when given justification. It would have been better if they had left Tirion in Northrend. Inaction due to non inclusion in the story is irritating, but it doesn't savage the flow of the narrative like inaction against character type does. Tirion has been built up as a man of action, both in the narrative, and through demonstration. His inactivity in this situation makes absolutely no sense.

If I were writing the script, I would have thrown out the Argent Crusade questing as it stood, it's not necessarily a bad questing area, but it serves no purpose within the larger narrative, and that fact makes it stand out like a white quarter panel on a red car. I would questing line along factional lines at this point. The Alliance players go to Hearthglen to demand an explanation from the Argent Crusade as to why they permit Val'kyr to run wild so close to their seat of power. There they meet with the Brotherhood of Light, one of the more reactionary subsets of the Argent Crusade.

Horde players would travel to Hearthglen for a different reason. Garrosh, knowing that there was going to be a confrontation between the Horde and the Alliance at Andorhal, and knowing that the Argent Crusade's might could turn the tide of battle if they discovered the questionable methods being employed by the Forsaken in the area, Garrosh took steps to keep Highlord Fordring's men off the table. To accomplish this end, he commands Eitrigg, a close friend of Highlord Fordring, to keep the crusade from deploying in opposition of the Horde.

Alliance players would liaison with Eligor Dawnbringer as they seek to provide proof of the Horde's duplicity in the situation, while Horde players follow commands from Garrosh to conceal the evidence, while Eitrigg struggles with his dual loyalties which will soon come into conflict with each other.

This sort of storyline could end several different ways, and hinges on the development of several characters. Depending on the wording of the orders, Eitrigg may or may not be aware of the extent of the crimes the Forsaken are committing, and what initially seemed like an innocuous request to keep Crusade forces clear of a conflict that did not concern them might come to shock Eitrigg. Or he might view the unity of the Horde as paramount to their survival, and place those concerns above all others. The Horde players might be successful in concealing their actions from Fordring, or the Alliance might convince him to mobilize in securing WPL. If Eitrigg places the Horde above the Argent Crusade, then it could create a schism that splits the Argent Crusade in two, just as the Ebon Blade fell apart. If Highlord Fordring does decide to throw the Forsaken out of the Plaguelands, does he actually side with the Alliance, or does he expand Hearthglen's influence as a neutral city-state? There's so many ways to take that storyline, and it's much more compelling than scaring away some spiders.