Today, Nethaera gives us a sneak preview of the starting zone of the Alliance in Warlords of Draenor : The Shadowmoon Valley.
Hidden under a shroud of perpetual night broken only by bright starlight, the lush idyllic forests of Shadowmoon Valley are home to a majestic draenei tomb and sanctuary: Karabor. While many of Shadowmoon’s denizens study prophecy among Karabor’s ancient stone circles, plotters with darker ambitions lurk in the valley’s vast underground cave network, gazing greedily at the sacred temple.
Zone Music Piece: Eternal Night
What’s the story in Shadowmoon Valley?
Helen Cheng: After a daring escape from the Iron Horde in Tanaan Jungle, Alliance players crash land on the northern shores of Shadowmoon Valley.
The valley is tranquil and serene. Rolling green hills give way to lush, violet forests. Draenei temples stand proudly beneath a star-studded sky. Here, the draenei have built wonders of their civilization—the town of Elodor with its majestic Altar of Sha’tar serves as the proud home of the great Exarchs, while the shining Temple of Karabor acts as the font of all holy learning. Under Prophet Velen and Exarch Akama’s watch, all is well.
But times are changing. The Iron Horde have called the native orc clans to join their ranks. The Shadowmoon Clan, led by Warlord Ner’zhul, yearns to prove itself worthy to Grommash Hellscream. Beneath the valley’s bright moon, a dark star hangs in the sky. For centuries, the Shadowmoon have been forbidden to tap its void-touched energy . . . until now. Will Warlord Ner’zhul succeed in harnessing the star’s power to destroy the draenei and the Temple of Karabor? Or will Prophet Velen, aided by his disciple Yrel—and a few fearless heroes—be able to stop him?
Meanwhile, trouble brews amongst the Exarchs, the most powerful and influential draenei heroes. Even as they debate the future of the draenei on their adopted homeworld, there is growing evidence of a traitor among their ranks. Who can be trusted?
The night elf Wardens sense a demonic presence in the northern woods of Shadowmoon Valley. As they hunt for the source of the fel energy, a sinister truth is revealed: Gul’dan, the Destroyer of Dreams, has returned.
Most importantly, as a proven champion of the Alliance, you are charged with establishing the Alliance foothold on Draenor. The land is harsh and unforgiving, and the Iron Horde has amassed an enormous army without equal. Before you can hope to defeat them, you must build a stronghold—your Garrison—from the ground up and gather allies to face this indomitable foe.
What are some of your favorite places within the zone?
Helen Cheng: Shadowmoon Valley is one of the most beautiful places on Draenor, with a breathtaking variety of stunning areas. I would say that the two most striking aspects of Shadowmoon Valley are the draenei and Shadowmoon orc areas.
The draenei architecture in Shadowmoon is really impressive. You get everything from a merchant town in Embaari Village to the valorous training grounds of the Exarchs in the north to the crystalline dome that is Teluuna Observatory. The draenei are cultured and sophisticated. Theirs is the pinnacle of an advanced society, and their towns and cities reflect a perfect balance of beauty and function. I really love all of the draenei locations—and there are more in other zones—but the Temple of Karabor has to be one of my favorites. The sheer size and scale of the place is incredible, and it’s remarkable to see it in its glory before the events of The Burning Crusade, which turned it into the Black Temple under Illidan’s control.
The Shadowmoon clan structures are impressive as well. The Shadowmoon were once a wise people, with a deep respect for the elements and a natural curiosity about the stars. They are natural-born leaders with a strong affinity for magic. However, since they joined the Iron Horde, Ner’zhul has strayed from the ancient ways. You can see this gradual decay reflected in their way of life. The Burial Fields is a place where the Shadowmoon traditionally bury and honor their dead. That place has become defiled and corrupted with void magic. Their ancestors, whom they once revered, are now being brutally tormented. Ner’zhul’s stronghold, Anguish Fortress, is an open-air ziggurat with a sacrificial pit in its center. In a nearby dungeon, players will see that there are more dark secrets hidden beneath this compound.
Tell us more about the Alliance garrison!
Helen Cheng: Nestled near the northern shores and with a commanding view of the main road, the Alliance Garrison location is of immense strategic importance. Prophet Velen will give the land to players as a thank-you for their deeds in the jungles of Tanaan, the intro zone. But there isn’t much time to rest—as great as the Prophet is, he needs your help. Your Garrison is awfully close to Shadowmoon territory, so be prepared to defend it.
Your Garrison will start as little more than an outpost, and your laborers will quickly run into trouble as they discover that even the forests of Draenor can be their enemy. But before long, you should have a comfortable Town Hall to call home and a Barracks that you can use to train new recruits. One of the perks of having your home base here is the ability to sound a “call to arms” anywhere in Shadowmoon, and Alliance troops will rush to your aid.
Kick your feet up – after all, the Garrison is all yours.
Could you name three of your favorite locations players should check out on their journey through the zone?
Helen Cheng: Once you’ve settled in, you should take a quick jaunt over to the town of Elodor, home of the revered Altar of Sha’tar with its stunning view of Karabor and the surrounding ocean. There you can meet the five Exarchs who act as the hand of the Prophet, guiding draenei society, and you can witness their own internal conflicts as they argue about their place in this savage land. Don’t miss the nearby Rangari Enclave, where the elite scouts of the draenei train—you won’t see mushrooms that size for another 30 years!
If you’re the adventurous type, try spelunking in Bloodthorn Cave. Don’t mind the flesh-eating pale orcs—they only kill you when provoked. Also, don’t eat the local mushrooms. They can be rather . . . potent.
We’ve heard mixed reviews about Gloomshade Grove. Some folks rave about the pristine beaches, while others are just never heard from again. If you see anything that looks like a flower, makes a sound like “mawarwaawa,” and has very sharp teeth, run away! Though it’s probably too late for you, so oh well. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
You’re probably wondering if there are any creatures on Draenor that won’t bite your head off. Try heading over to the Shimmering Mor. This enchanted forest glade is home to wild faerie dragons. Awww, they’re just so cute! No, you can’t take one home . . . oh, who are we kidding? You’ll probably find an egg or some-such to raise eventually.
Finally, don’t forget to stop by Embaari Village. This draenei merchant town is known for its delicious food and exotic wares. No trip to Shadowmoon is complete without a tasty meal and a mug of honey mead.
As with all places on Draenor, Shadowmoon Valley is filled with sights to see, adventures to be had, and savage enemies to destroy. Enjoy your journey!
Next, our voyage will take us north into the Horde starting zone of Frostfire Ridge. Stay tuned for more!