Monday, November 2, 2009

On Being 'Tarren Milled'

Murtaugh, his wife, and I play Horde on the Stormscale PvP server. (If you see Quintalan or Gdaan poking around somewhere, that's me.) When you reach your upper-teens/low-20s as a Blood Elf and you venture out to the Undercity, you're given the "Report to Tarren Mill" quest from the Sindorei representative to the Forsaken. Being a noob, my first thought was to take it easy and work my way through Silverpine Forest first, and then make my way to Tarren Mill once I'd gone up a few more levels.

(Now, in the sake of honesty, I do use Quest Tracker, and the arrows to Tarren Mill from the Undercity go through the Western Plaguelands. I did venture into there as a 25th level Paladin, and promptly found out why it was NOT a good idea to go that way. Like I said, I'm a noob.)

I finally ventured to Hillsbrad Foothills and Tarren Mill somewhere around 27-28th level, which was my first exposure to the Contested areas. Naturally, if you're traveling on foot/horseback from Silverpine Forest, you have to pass several Alliance controlled areas. I kept expecting Alliance players to see me and come streaming out from their base to lay some serious smackdown, but I arrived in Tarren Mill without incident.

Ah, I thought. That worked out well.

I got the flight point for Tarren Mill squared away and logged off, confident that I'd be ready the next night to handle some initial quests in the area.

Things started out well enough, but when I was turning in one of the first quests you get (basically killing some bears in the area), all of a sudden I heard a "zap" and the release spirit window popped up.

"What the..."

Then I saw them. There were several of them -at least 5- and they were all well above my character's level into the "??" range. All Alliance guys. (I say guys because the characters were all male- your guess is as good as mine as to what their real gender was.) They were all having a grand time zapping everyone in sight, jumping around, and in general looking like a bunch of punks who deserved a visit from Mr. T and his Night Elf Mohawk. Considering I'd seen the results of such destruction in The Ghostlands when everyone in Tranquillien was zapped by a couple of '??' Level Alliance guys, I knew what to expect.

Okay, I just need to wait and they'll split, then I can respawn and that'll be that.

Only it didn't work like that. I waited five minutes, thinking they were gone -well, I couldn't see them anymore- and respawned. Ten seconds later I was chewing on my lip, staring at the release spirit window again.

I'd been Tarren Milled.

Murtaugh, when he heard about my misadventure, laughed and informed me that was why he didn't typically go to Tarren Mill when he was leveling. "That happens all the time," he more-or-less said.

"Yeah," I said. "I noticed. Kind of like shooting fish in a barrel."

Obviously I wasn't worth it from an honor standpoint -I was way too low level for them to get any honor from it- it was pure maliciousness.

I came from that experience having learned two things: always watch your back, and Alliance people can be real dicks.

Since then, I've had some run-ins with Alliance people outside of Warsong Gulch -in Stranglethorn and Feralas, most notably- but in those cases the fights began with comparably leveled opponents. Sure, Murtaugh tagged along in Stranglethorn for protection in case a higher level "friend" of the Alliance opponent made an appearance (he did), but the fight was comparably even. It was remarkably 'jerk free', compared to Tarren Mill.

There was one time in Alterac where I was fighting some Syndicate personnel, and all of a sudden the dreaded '??' Level Alliance person suddenly entered my field of vision, circled me on his mount three times, paused, and then continued on. I got the distinct impression of "I'm going to let you live, buddy, but I could have had your ass whenever I wanted."

Gee, thanks for making my heart beat a little faster.

The uber-level Alliance person I encountered in Harathi while I was trying to complete a Strombrad quest wasn't so nice, however. He simply butchered me twice while he was apparently hunting for something. I grumbled, respawned, and got the hell out of dodge while I could.

Then there was the encounter I had today.

I was taking a late lunch and logged on to complete a few side quests. (Hey, 6000 XP is 6000 XP to a 50th Level Paladin.) Riding through the Hinterlands, I stopped at one of the troll areas (the one with the big Mayanesque pyramids) to go kill some spiders for an Apothecary in Tarren Mill. While I was there, I noticed a quest marker, so I ran up a pyramid and killed the three or four trolls at the top to find the quest hovering over another troll. Jumping down to where the troll was, I was about to talk to him when a flash of another monster caught my eye, popping up directly behind the quest NPC.

Great, I grumbled, another troll I missed.

I didn't need this; I only had about 20 minutes left to play and I wanted to be in and out quickly. Without much thought, I clicked and sent Quintalan to go slice and dice.

Then I noticed the '??' Level marker.

Oh crap. I am so dead. I actually got in a hit or two before I yanked Quintalan off of the female Night Elf (either Night Elf or Human, I can't remember) and waited for the end. I was about to get Tarren Milled again.

A piece of action popped up in my screen. "XXX says we are NOT going there."

I swallowed, pushing my heart back into my chest from where it had been lodged in my throat. I quickly typed out "mistake" and pressed Enter.

A further piece of action popped up. "XXX smiles."

And that was that.

There really isn't any moral to the story, outside of the obvious: don't let your initial impressions color your perceptions for the rest of the game. Not all of the people on your side are fantastic people, like the Horde person who decided to start a fight with some Alliance people in Booty Bay when I was wandering through (you're making the rest of us look bad, buddy; take it outside of those neutral cities), but neither is the other side composed of Grade A jerkoffs, either.


  1. Some of my best interactions with the Alliance are those random moments when you just decide to help them out instead of screwing them over. You can communitcate fairly well with emotes and it's fun every once in a while to spare them and have a bit of fun.

    I tend to still harbor a bit of the red = dead mentality though... That was so ingraned in your head just by leveling on a pvp server when the game was released.

  2. I just had a '??' Level Alliance Rogue have some fun with me in the Badlands.

    I park ye olde charger off to the side in a little niche and go shoo the kids upstairs to take showers and get ready for bed. Returning to the computer, I find myself wandering aimlessly around the area. Apparently the Rogue decided I needed a little attention getting and was doing something to make me confused. I swung the camera around and found him there, watching and laughing.

    I guess I should have said something about providing him entertainment, but I really didn't want to push it with him.

  3. Considering I've not played PvE or RPG, I wouldn't know the difference. People are people, and some people behave badly no matter what environment they're in. If nothing else, it provides fodder for writing, right?