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The Moral Quandary of Westfall April 5, 2011

Posted by Ben in General Whinging, Leveling, Zones.

*Spoiler Alert*

It started with my first quest. The investigator wanted me to question some homeless people about the murder of the elderly Furlbrow family. One of the transients didn’t take so kindly to my questions, maybe thinking I was looking for a way to blame him for the crime. He became violent and in our scuffle, the poor man met an untimely end. As I stood sadly over his lifeless body, four small children came running up and began to rummage through his pockets. I backed away slowly to continue my investigation, trying to push out of my mind what I’d done.

When I finally arrived in Sentinel Hill some time later, I came across a wall that was new to me. It was incomplete, and the gnolls were trying to rush one of the gaps. I noticed some homeless citizens loitering about the exterior of the wall, but didn’t give it much thought. Times were tough in Westfall right now, and there wasn’t enough work to go around.

Returning to Sentinel Hill, I approached through one of the gates and saw some commotion. Several of the poor residents of Westfall were trying to enter into the town, but a line of guards was blocking the way. Hanging from the gate was a large placard announcing that “No Transients” were welcome within the walls. I was rushing to pass along my latest discoveries, and didn’t have time to get involved. The guards recognized me and waved me along through.

Moonbrook, once a hotbed of violent ruffians before the Defias Brotherhood had been dispatched, was now filled with people who had no where else to go. Trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, I listened to a cloaked figure standing on a corner. She spoke with flowery language of taking back their home, of a return to prosperity.

A shaman granted me a vision into the past, to the fall of Edwin VanCleef. As the adventurers left the scene of their victory, a small child came out from the shadows. She approached the headless corpse of the man, and in a small, weak voice said, “Daddy?”

When Vanessa VanCleef revealed herself and her plans, I was there. I watched as Sentinel Hill was set ablaze, as the orphaned girl wrought her revenge on those who had wronged her. The locals rushed around trying to put out the fires, trying to reclaim their town from the transients who had rallied behind Vanessa and sought to make a better life for themselves. Gryan Stoutmantle sent me to inform the King of Stormwind and seek help.

In Stormwind, I climbed the magnificent steps of the new keep that Varian had build upon his return. The opulence of the structure was dazzling, and I remembered the poor people of Westfall. The homeless men and women who had tried to scrape together life in an unforgiving land, who were outcasts in their own homes, and who had rallied behind the only person who sought to help them.

I did not return to Westfall. I could not. My faith in the leadership of the Kingdom of Stormwind was shaken.


I’ve played characters through numerous situations. I’ve been asked to lie, steal, and even kill for some coins and shiny baubles, but playing through the story of Westfall really shook me. Maybe it’s my left-leaning politics, or maybe it’s the clear gap between the haves and have-nots that is mirrored in our own society.

But I now have qualms with running the Deadmines. How can I stand with people who cast out the poor, and treat them as criminals? How can I go in there and kill people who only want to make a better life for themselves?



1. Stormy - April 5, 2011


When you messaged me this morning to let me know there was a new post in the queue, I was planning on sitting on it for a couple days (I don’t exactly have any posts burning a hole in my pocket right now). But then I read it, and I can’t sit on this one. I’m *stunned* at how good this is. And this weekend I’m going to play through Westfall, even though I’ll have to do so on a damn dirty Alliance heathen.

2. Fuzzy_Magicz - April 5, 2011

This is why I play Horde.
Well, actually, it’s because zombies are awesome. But this too.

3. redcow - April 5, 2011

I’m primarily Horde, so the first time I had the Defias storyline explained to me I was really interested in it. This post confirms that I will need to play through the new Westfall to experience the story (and also make a ton of CSI jokes).

4. The Daily Quest: Raiding and morality « playgames video games - April 6, 2011

[…] Scribblings on the Asylum Wall takes a long look at leveling in Westfall from a moral point of view. […]

5. Testimonias - April 6, 2011

I’ve always agreed with this. Heck, it was worse in the old days than it is now – while Vanessa herself is probably a more sympathetic character than Edwin was, the old Defias were actively screwed over by Stormwind rather than just being neglected.

Varian’s new castle immediately and viscerally disgusted me the second I saw it. I’ve never liked him at all; if Anduin had been allowed to grow up out of the regency without Varian returning, Stormwind would likely be under much better governance.

Rush - April 6, 2011

Don’t forget that both Stormwind and the Defias were being played against each other by Onyxia to distract the humans from what was happening in Blackrock Mountain. We were caught up in layers of intrigue (which we did a fair amount to uncover in the end), that we weren’t able to control.

I also want to add in, that despite all my conflicting emotions about this zone, the zone was one of the best I’ve done in the post-shattering world. Only a few other zones in this game have drawn me so completely into the story.

6. Faroth - April 6, 2011

There’s a small point of misunderstanding regarding Stormwind. It hasn’t changed.

Stormwind in Cataclysm is Stormwind as it is meant to have been since Vanilla. Varian didn’t return from Northrend and in the course of a month or two bulldoze the old keep and build a new one. He didn’t have the surrounding land fully reformed to hold a man made lake, add farms, and built a massive and elaborate cemmetary and his wife’s body wasn’t left on a bed in the castle tower until after Wrath so it could be put in a tomb.

The misconception that Varian wasted money building a new keep and a statue of himself is completely and horribly wrong. The lore directs us that the poor gathered in Westfall are feeling the economic pressure from the resources used to fight in the north, to defeat the Lich King.

It’s still unfortunate at how things have developed in Westfall, but it’s not like tyrant Wrynn is laughing at their plight while he builds himself another tower.

The Defias storyline is the tragedy of Stormwind and the pinnacle of showing just how far reaching Onyxia’s machinations reached. The things she did years ago still have a lasting effect today.

7. The Daily Quest: Raiding and morality | gQuit's WoWPress - April 6, 2011

[…] Scribblings on the Asylum Wall takes a long look at leveling in Westfall from a moral point of view. […]

8. The Daily Quest: Raiding and morality | WOW News - World of Warcraft news portal - April 6, 2011

[…] on the Asylum Wall takes a long look at leveling in Westfall from a moral point of view. Is there a story out there we ought to link or a blog we should be following? Just leave us a […]

9. The Daily Quest: Raiding and morality - April 6, 2011

[…] on the Asylum Wall takes a long look at leveling in Westfall from a moral point of view. Is there a story out there we ought to link or a blog we should be following? Just leave us a […]

10. Throm - April 6, 2011

Its sad what happened to the transients, yes.

However, it does not justify the muder of the innocents in Sentinel Hill, nor the murder of the Furlbrows.

Vanessa’s story is a sad one, but she is guilty of murder and treason. No amount of crying over her criminal father will change that.

Rush - April 6, 2011

It’s all a matter of shades of grey.
Our actions years ago, and the cost of the wars in Outland and Northrend have caused the situtation in Westfall. How we choose to address that problem tells us about ourselves. The people of Sentinel Hill (and by extension the kingdom of Stormwind) have chosen to cast out the homeless, to keep them on the fringe.
Vanessa’s actions may not be noble or just, but neither are the “protagonists” of the zone. It’s choosing to take sides between two equally questionable justifications.

11. The Daily Quest: Raiding and morality | The Best Guide To Free Wow Gold - April 6, 2011

[…] Scribblings on the Asylum Wall takes a long look at leveling in Westfall from a moral point of view. […]

12. Arugadh - April 6, 2011

“This is why I play Horde.”

The Horde aren’t so honorable either; horror is on both sides the fence. Create a worgen. Play thru their storyline, up until they end up in Darnassus. You’ll see what the Horde is allowing to shelter under their wings. What they’ve allowed the Forsaken to do in Hillsbarad is unjustifiable. Varian’s horrible treatment of the Defias and transients in Westfall pales in comparison.

And the undead? I created a new undead toon, and got sickened by what I was asked to do & what I found out in just the opening quests; I made it to level 5, and finally just deleted the toon in horrified disgust.

Not to mention that Thrall & Garrosh have allied with a vile little scumbag of a goblin leader — who betrayed his own people into slavery and let them drown beneath the sea.

And Westfall? This is an agrarian/medieval culture. The transients could claim land and start farming. They could work together to farm the fields and raise the crops and feed themselves; have any of them petitioned Varian for seed or help to do so? Instead, they wander those fields and gripe about how bad they have it. I feel for their plight, but still…

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