Saturday, 28 August 2010

Exploring Burning Steppes

Time for another collection of exploration snaps. This time I've decided to showcase the Level 50 - 58 zone of Burning Steppes.

Warning:  This is an image-heavy post.  Sorry phone users!

My first memory of Burning Steppes was flying over it from Stormwind to Ironforge and seeing all the dragons and such down there with ?? next to their names. It looked like a scary place, and it wasn't until much later that I did any of the quests there, much less explore it at all.

A Brief History
Burning Steppes lies between the continents of Azeroth and Khaz Modan, in the Eastern Kingdoms. It was once part of Redridge Mountains and part of the main highway between Stormwind and Khaz Modan, and on to Lordaeron.

The Dark Iron clan of dwarves, led by their Emperor Dagran Thaurissan, were exiled from Ironforge after unsuccessfully trying to seize control of the city. They founded the city of Thaurissan in the north of the Redridge Mountains, and from there launched assaults on Ironforge and Grim Batol.

During one of these assaults, Thaurissan attempted to summon elemental forces deep underneath Redridge Mountains to aid them.  instead, he got more than he bargained for when the Lord of all Fire Elementals, Ragnaros the Firelord, was released from his banishment and in his return, devastated the city of Thaurissan and the region, creating the enormous volcano of Blackrock Mountain.

Thaurissan was killed and his clan enslaved by the elemental lord. The Dark Irons rebuilt a city within the mountain - Blackrock Spire.

The mountain now splits the region into Searing Gorge to the north, and Burning Steppes to the south. The highway is still used by travelers, but most prefer to take the Deeprun Tram to travel between Stormwind and Ironforge.

The Present
The city of Thaurissan now lies in ruins, populated only by huge Golems and some Dark Iron agents.

Nearby, the Horde outpost of Flame Crest houses a flight master and a vendor, as well as several treasure-seeking Goblins.

The Alliance camp within the destroyed village of Morgan's Vigil is slightly larger, containing more quest givers and vendors.

Little is known about the etymology of the name "Pillar of Ash" but the area in the central area of the map contains a number of Blackrock Orc structures including a tall tower. Interestingly, the tower bears a Horde standard, but the orcs within are hostile to all.

In the area there is also a large statue of a human hero brandishing a sword and shield. There is no inscription on the statue but it is believed to have been erected to mark the spot where Anduin Lothar was killed in battle. Why the Blackrock Orcs allowed a statue of a great war leader of the Humans to remain here in such good condition is anyone's guess.

The eastern side of the zone is dominated by Dreadmaul Rock, an Ogre stronghold which contains an extensive cave system. The Firegut Ogres are allies of the Blackrock Orcs.

Wyrmkin and other Black Dragonflight Drakes roam the zone but mainly around the area of Draco'dar, in the west, and in the east around the Slither Rock area. These dragons are affiliated with Nefarian and his experiments within Blackwing Lair. The Rare-Elite Elemental Volchan sometimes patrols the area around Slither Rock.

The Altar of Storms is in the northwestern corner of the zone. Surrounded by a lake of lava, Blackrock Warlocks perform some sort of ritual here. There's another Altar of Storms in the Blasted Lands.

Overlooking the Altar, Mor'zul Bloodbringer and the goblin Gorzeeki Wildeyes are performing some sort of experiment. They're a creepy pair - Aefa got out of there pretty quickly.

Blackrock Stronghold is in the northern part of the zone, close to the mountain. The Blackrock Orcs have long been separate to the rest of the Horde in Kalimdor. Most of them were killed during the Third War, but some remain here, battling with the Dark Irons for territory.

Now to the Mountain itself. Blackrock Mountain is actually a zone in itself, containing no less than three level 60+ raids and two 5-man dungeons. Ragnaros and his Dark Irons and Fire Elementals control Blackrock Depths (5-man) and the Molten Core (40-man raid).  Nefarian and the Blackrock clan control the Blackrock Spire - Lower Spire (5-man) and Upper Spire (10-man raid), and also Blackwing Lair (40-man raid).

I haven't included snaps of these dungeons as that would be an entire other post!

The Future
*SPOILER ALERT* Cataclysm will see two new instances added to the menagerie at Blackrock Mountain - Blackrock Caverns (level 80-81 5-man) and Blackwing Descent (level 85 10/25-man raid). Burning Steppes will be changing during the Cataclysm, but I'll leave that to my colleagues who like to discuss such things.

I hope you've enjoyed this look at one of the more lore-rich zones.

The lore discussed in this post came from

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