Skip to content

RIP Thersa Windsong

June 14, 2010

A while ago, after Wrath came out, there were quite the flurry of posts about ethics and morals and how they applied in game, mostly in regards to a certain quest.  (There was also a similar quest in the DK starting area, but I didn’t see anyone mention it, oddly.)

The death of Thersa Windsong didn’t directly involve me taking some sharp instrument and torturing her before she died, but I think it counts nonetheless.  I had gone down in the Apothecarium to deliver some information to Andon Gant from Jediga and saw that there was another quest available if I went down the stairs.  Sure enough, Chemist Cuely wanted me to go fill some vials from tidepools in Azshara to help this poor Tauren standing next to him.  Thersa did look quite ill and Cuely wanted to find out what had made her so sick.

So, I went to go fill the vials.

Should I have known better?  Yes.  The very first time I played an Undead out of the starting area and got to Brill and got the quest to poison the poor Mountaineers in the basement of the inn, I’ve disliked the Undead.  (I was actually so disgusted and guilt-ridden I didn’t roll an Undead for about a year.)  And as you go one, there are more and more quests in a similar vein throughout the world that the Undead questgivers make available to you.  Because I have an inherent dislike for the Undead that started that first time I rolled an Undead, I stay away from their areas while leveling.  I’ll go to the Undercity to turn in quests or to pick up quests for dungeons.  But I don’t like them, I don’t like what they do, and I don’t like their areas.

But my Troll, as naive as that poor Tauren that went looking to the Undead for help, desperate for a cure, decided to go fill those vials.  It was an easy enough quest.  I hearthed back to turn it in, and as Chemist Cuely says, “… Perhaps it will cure her… perhaps not.” my stomach dropped a little.  I knew what the vial Anarkali held in her hands was going to do to the Tauren.  It was either going to disfigure her horribly or it would kill her.

What should I do?  As soon as I read the quest text, I was taken back to that first time I went into the basement to poison the Mountaineers.  Since I didn’t know what would happen, I watched them turn into zombies.  It was horrible to read their e-motes.  I felt exactly the same knowing I was going to kill this poor Tauren, who was only here for help because other healers couldn’t help her.  (Plus, she’s a Tauren – there’s a whole added bit of innocence somehow built in, imo.)

I gave it to her.  She died immediately.

My excuse (and that’s what it is, an excuse) is that Anarkali needed the experience points.  She’s trying to level as quickly as possible.  Why?  The sooner she is 80, the sooner she can start working on Loremaster.  Issue?  Now I’m not sure if I can do that.  As I said, there are more quests out there like this – if I want Loremaster, will I be able to skip over them and complete others in order to meet the number requirements per continent?  Or will I have to bite the bullet and kill off who knows how many other people in order to make my quest count go up?

This could turn into a whole big discussion of ethics and morals and how my morals perhaps aren’t Anarkali’s at all and while I don’t have an intimate knowledge of who she is yet, I’d like to think that she wouldn’t willingly participate in such a deplorable quest and be in league with the damnable Forsaken by choice.  She is a shaman.  She heals people by choice – this wouldn’t be what she does.

26 Comments leave one →
  1. June 14, 2010 7:39 PM

    Uh, what about all the folks you kill along the way for every other quest? How many Bloodsail have you butchered? Syndicate? Ogres? How many times has poor Buttercup died at your hands?

    They don’t call them The Foresaken for nothing you know. Even the Alliance aren’t completely innocent here. Ever kill the Defias? All those guys wanted was a paycheck they rightly earned. Granted Onyxia had some meddling to do there, but you still roll the Deadmines.

    All I’m saying is, embrace the RPness of it.

    • June 14, 2010 9:00 PM

      While on one hand I think this could be a fair point, on the other is the clear fact that it’s not just “killing folks”, this is helping one person (of your same faction) kill another person (also of your same faction) who is seeking help.

      This would be like a soldier helping a doctor kill someone who was in sick bay. They’re all on the same side and that’s part of why it’s so horrible.

      Could you say that it’s horrible that Anarkali (and everyone one of my characters and everyone else’s characters) has leveled by killing nearly everything that crossed their paths, animals, critters, humans, dragons, etc.? I guess. I can’t quite phrase why “it’s different” in a way that is eloquent, but I think that we all understand it – it’s why we continue to play the game, rather than see what we have to do for the first few quests, gasp in horror at the slaughter that will occur, then quit.

      Perhaps this is a double edged sword in my saying this, but the lore and stories of the quests, the “why” that we’re given if we choose to read the quest text, makes the difference between us (as questers, as members of our factions, as [name]) and any other brigand that might happen to be around.

    • June 15, 2010 10:06 AM

      There’s a huge difference between straight up combat with disgruntled laborers turned bandits and intentionally performing medical experiments on prisoners of war and the wounded of your own side.

      That’s not even close to a moral equivalency.

    • Exsanguinia permalink
      July 9, 2010 2:30 AM

      As far as RP goes, I always bypass the apothecary quests, and the defias hunting quests. Doing them just makes me feel like too much of a jerk. The one exception to this rule is on blood elf characters, because they are evil bastards…

  2. June 14, 2010 8:25 PM

    I believe that the Forsaken that ask you to zombie the people in the basement as well as the ones who bop Teresa Windsong are all Apothecaries. It’s possible that Blizz has those in there to give you the idea that maybe the Apothecaries aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. In case you’re wondering there’s a quest that shows up just as you’re motoring through Duskwood toward Swamp of Sorrows where a couple of Apothecaries are wanting to “help out” a captured Alliance person. I pretty much knew what they were intending from the get-go, and the Alliance person himself is saying things like “I don’t normally like the Horde, but there are things afoot that both of us should be worried about.” That’s a big tipoff that the Apothecaries aren’t on the level.

    I refused to finished the quest chain, and it didn’t hamper my achieving Loremaster for Eastern Kingdoms at all.

    If there are any in Kalimdor while I’m going through to finish over there, I’ll let you know.

    • June 14, 2010 9:02 PM

      Thanks for (in the future) keeping me updated!

      • June 15, 2010 7:32 AM

        This morning I ran across the Magistrix in the Horde outpost in Stonetalon, and -after a quest to clear out part of Alliance area- she wanted me to kill one of the Guardians of Cenarius. I drew the line at that point.

        Doubt it will impact me in Loremaster; there seems more than enough quests to cover one.

  3. June 14, 2010 8:48 PM

    That’s why I don’t like undead either. Even less now after Wrathgate and after watching my kids on their horde toons run the ICC 5 mans with Sylvanus. I mean, I guess there’s a lore thing to it . . . you know, being bitter about lingering in eternal undeath . . . having no culpability for the state they’re in, yet being held responsible for it. Maybe it’s a bit much to expect a positive mental attitude. It does engender a tragic dramatic that some people thrive on.

    But it’s not me.

    I think I understand why no one gets worked up about the DK quests that involve killing innocent captives. It’s all part of the DK plot . . . the whole fall and redemption storyline. You play your DK toon doing all sorts of bad things to build up to this dramatic turning point. When it unfolds, when you forsake your service to the Lich King, you not only leave those bad acts behind you . . . you have to atone for them. That is the oath taken by the Knights of the Ebon Blade.

    • June 15, 2010 7:39 AM

      The ICC 5-mans seem to have been tailor made for Sylvanas. She wants revenge at any cost –think Maiev chasing after Illidan in Burning Crusade– and she thinks the ICC 5-mans are her best shot. In a very real sense, her thirst for revenge is both her greatest asset and her achilles heel, because it blinded her to what the Apothecaries and Varimathras were up to. The Horde players could see that something was coming, because there were enough despicable acts by the Apothecaries to lend you this sense of dread to their endeavors.

      I’m really curious what’s going to happen to Sylvanas’ story after Arthas bites the dust. That’s been the sole focus of her existence after regaining her free will, and now that it’s over…

  4. June 15, 2010 5:37 AM

    The quest I hate doing is killing the orcas for the murlocs in Borean Tundra… I have to turn off the sound so I can’t hear their music.
    I still do it though, like you say… for XP.
    Doesn’t sit right with me though. :(

    • June 15, 2010 11:45 AM

      Hm… I guess I somehow skipped over that one. I can imagine that it sounds horrible when they die – probably similar to how it sounds sad when elekks die.

  5. June 15, 2010 10:04 AM

    No one mentions the DK torture quest because you’re a member of the Scourge and (the Scourge believe) not entirely acting out of your own free will at this point.

    The Kirin Tor and the Apothecary Society want you to torture and perform “medical experiments” on prisoners and both are quite aware of the moral dimension of their requests — the freakin’ Kirin Tor even say that’s why THEY won’t torture the Malygos loyalist and want YOU to do it instead.

    And the Apothecary Society are just plain bad to the bone. I don’t buy that Sylvanas and the Horde didn’t know what they were up to — they’re not exactly asking you to sneak around while doing it. The authorities turned a blind eye to all of it, IMO, because they figure, in the end, the New Plague will be used on the Alliance and the Scourge not all living beings. (Even though the Apothecaries, bless their dead hearts, are explicit about its purpose all along.)

    • June 15, 2010 12:11 PM

      Exactly! “I had no idea this was coming. I mean, who could possibly have imagined that it would be a bad idea to invite a demon, former commander in the Burning Legion, in as my personal counselor!?”

      I really like the Death Knight fall and redemption storyline. Seeing all the really awful things you do, or did, in the Lich King’s service makes the oath to atone for it all as a Knight of the Ebon Blade a big deal.

  6. June 15, 2010 11:54 AM

    I suspect that all these quests with the undead apothecaries are just building up the lore leading to Wrathgate. I’ve not yet leveled up any Horde characters beyond lvl 20, so I don’t know for sure but I’ve found in my questing for Loremaster on the Alliance side that for every major piece of lore, there are quest lines that build up to it. There are very few quests that don’t point to one piece of lore or another.

    Morally, while the acts being asked for in quests would be almost universally considered reprehensible in real life, this is a game and a story, doing the quests isn’t much different from becoming immersed in a novel that had characters doing bad things. You are a character in a game/story, I think getting too invested in the morality of the things you’re doing in the game is a bit illogical. I know I’ve done many quests that came to a point where you discover you’ve been tricked into doing things that turn out to have been helping the “enemy” and you have to then fix your mistake. I think any character that’s extensively quested all the way up to lvl 80 stands on shaky moral ground as far as the things they’ve done on the way.

    I wouldn’t spend too much time worrying quests like these, do them with the attitude that they’re part of a story that is the development of a naive character on their way to becoming a heroic adventurer, sometimes you’re going to get duped into doing bad things but unlike some of the protagonists in the rest of the story (like Arthas) you didn’t let them turn you into a monster.

  7. June 15, 2010 11:55 AM

    Look at it like this.

    Here you have the people of Lorderon, betrayed by their own prince, and then not only abandoned – but actively hunted – by their own race (since most of them were human). You’ve then got the Blood Elves who forged the alliance with them, but are still kind of disgusted with them for having fallen.

    I like that the game has these kinds of quests and such, especially for the Forsaken – but it would be pretty slick if they had different options for the quests (or at least dialoge) similar to Mass Effect – where you would become more or less evil depending on your actions.

    I think you’d still have a bunch of people running around collecting skulls though – even on the Alliance side.

  8. June 15, 2010 11:58 AM

    I personally like being an Undead (back when I was horde) – but when I was I guess I was new to the lore and I just liked the idea of having regained my free will and being bitter about what I lost and all that.

    I like to differentiate between the Undead and the Apothaceries – while of course one can argue that we should have seen it coming. But I try not to put everyone in the same box, and I’d like to believe that my undead (that’s still lying around somewhere..) while bitter and resentful never wanted to see other horde getting killed.

    When you think about it though, it is pretty neat that you see these tiny little things of what the Apothecaries are capable of throughout the levelling process. Even so long before the Wrath Gate event. Whenever I came across a quest like that I just sort of imagined my horde character’s face going kind of blank, wondering what the hell they got themselves into. ;)

  9. June 15, 2010 1:19 PM

    An interesting quandary Anea. However, I think this is a fine line between meta-thinking and roleplaying in-character. Some quests, especially those relating to the Apothecaries, are really important to game experience. It sounds like you’re looking at this particular quest from the perspective of one who knows what the Royal Apothecaries are all about, but to a new player who is experiencing the game for the first time? They might have a bad feeling about it, but they really *don’t* know what will happen. And it’s important to have a player learn how bad the Apothecaries really are, or else later on during the Wrathgate it’s meaningless.

    As for your character, you say that you don’t think your character would willing do such a deplorable quest. I think your shaman *would* unhesitatingly do the quest, and not consider it deplorable at all. Because not doing it would be condemning Thersa to death.

    If we’re thinking 100% ingame, essentially what your shaman is presented with is this: the tauren is sick and this strange Chemist guy says that the only possible solution is to fill these vials. Or in other words, if you don’t fill these vials, she’ll die.

    Would your shaman really let Thersa just sit there and expire? Especially when at this point in her life she really has no reason not to trust them? Even when you brought the vials back and Cuely said his ominous line about it maybe curing her, there’s still no question of what someone would do, since the alternative is once again, letting her perish.

    (Obviously, this breaks down slightly with the argument of “I wouldn’t use the vials, I would find another cure.” Since that’s not an option in WoW we have to work with what we’re given. ;D)

    Now granted, we know how it turns out, and yeah your shaman probably will look back at this as a bad experience, and one that makes her distrust the Apothecaries. But that’s important – if not for experiences for this, why else would your shaman come to dislike them? Not every quest can, or should, end in happy “thanks for killing those evil zombies, brave hero! Now all is well in the world! Here’s some new pants.”

    • June 15, 2010 1:32 PM

      Hm… I didn’t even think about it that way. I was looking at it from the eyes of the veteran player and “spoiled” the ending for the shaman. When really, she wouldn’t leave this poor Tauren there to die in the Undercity. I think that “stuck between a rock and a hard place” applies here to this situation. Don’t help? She slowly dies. Help? She may die anyway.

      I’m glad you brought up the character development part of this, since I totally glossed over it.

    • June 15, 2010 2:14 PM

      I’m going to disagree that it’s only the known ending that makes it horrifying.

      I first poisoned that mountaineer prisoner during the third push of alpha (undead push), years before there was a Wrath of the Lich King. Even then, my wife and I gave each other a “WTF did we just do” look.

      In real life, the people who perform “medical experiments” on prisoners of war are war criminals, vilified for decades to come. The Apothecary Society are just straight-up evil, and I don’t know that there’s many ways to repackage that.

      (That said, I LOVE that they’re using them in the Fool for Love storyline now. They’re going to make great sinister villains for years to come, just like ex-Nazi scientists were staple movie villains for decades after World War II.)

      • June 15, 2010 2:22 PM

        I wonder if Mengele (or similar) were actually an influence for the concept of the Apothecaries?

      • June 15, 2010 2:40 PM

        Oh, I wasn’t saying the R.A.S. aren’t bad guys (they clearly are) but simply that it’s essential from a roleplaying experience to actually experience said evil quests. Also, the fact that the R.A.S. never actually say outright what will happen is a fiendishly clever roleplaying device.

        Picture a new, idealistic shaman exploring the world, being played by a new player. An Apothecary tells her “go feed the dwarf in the basement this lethal poison.” Chances are the Shaman recoils in horror and refuses, and the player of said shaman would probably think the quest idiotic and offensive. A quest, and character development opportunity, wasted.

        Now picture the quest as it really is, with the Apothecary saying “go feed the dwarf this ‘special’ drink and let’s see what happens.” Creepy and ominous yes, but we’re a baby shaman/player, we don’t know any better. Maybe he’ll turn blue or something! These Forsaken guys are our allies, after all. Of course, the dwarf dies, the shaman/player is horrified, and deeply affected. Now she doesn’t trust the Apothecaries, or maybe even the entire Forsaken faction! Suddenly this blank slate character has some hooks, some personality. After all, nothing builds character like emotional scarring. ;) (Look at Disney movies!)

  10. June 15, 2010 2:54 PM

    Here’s the way I see it.. After having leveled several alliance characters, I thought i’d see how the other side lived, and leveled a blood elf. Their relations with the forsaken didn’t disturb me all that much, although there were a few times and a few quests that left me feeling slightly uneasy, but I ignored it for the most part. Tarren Mill was probably the first place that left me feeling really turned off by the forsaken, but I kept doing the quests there (because i was there to level, not RP lol). I couldn’t tell you what path I took through levelling but I don’t remember having much forsaken interaction until Outlands… and I don’t remember much of them through Outlands really, so it must not’ve been too ominous. Northrend however, was a whole other story. When I started doing quests in Dragonblight every quest from a forsaken just gave me a REALLY ominous feeling. Having done the wrathgate before on alliance side I knew what was coming and I was exceedingly torn. Torn between wanting to see the siege of UC on horde side, and wanting to feel less and less like i had a DIRECT hand in developing the blight that was used at the wrathgate. =\ Seeing the siege on Undercity won out, and I felt so immensely guilty it just isn’t even funny. The quests they make you do are just so involved, they even have you TESTING the blight in a plague-launcher on random scourge near wintergarde keep. So what was the point in me telling this really long story? I don’t remember anymore, honestly, but yeah.. You’re not the only one who feels guilt in some of these things, and I think that’s blizzard’s objective… especially leading up to the wrathgate.

  11. June 15, 2010 11:29 PM

    Oh, Thersa!
    I felt so *horrible* after I did that quest while working on Kamalia’s “Loremaster”. There was this poor sick Tauren, and I wanted to do something to help her, and I couldn’t just leave her there to assuredly die when I could possibly save her…. and then she died anyway, and by my hand.
    I’ve assiduously avoided doing that quest with my other characters.

    I did a fair number of guilt-inducing, morally ambiguous sorts of quests in the name of ticking up my quest counter when I was working on Kamalia’s “Loremaster”. I don’t know how many of them I could have safely skipped. You might want to do some research into the quests in each zone on WoWwiki as you go along, if you’re going for Loremaster, so that you can see if a terrible quest is an early step in a long chain. On my other characters, I’ve chosen to not do the quests that particularly bothered me when I did them with Kamalia.

    When Kamalia first came to Northrend, she started in Borean Tundra. By the time Kerisa came to Northrend, BTH had decided he liked the quest flow in Howling Fjord better, so we went there first. Howling Fjord is beautiful — but I like the quests in Borean Tundra better. I’ve seen the Wrathgate event a couple of times now, and I was already uncomfortable about helping to develop the Blight in the process of doing those quests in Howling Fjord and Dragonblight, so my future characters to go through Northrend will probably skip those questlines and leave the Wrathgate in its unopened phase.

    Kamalia will probably do many things in Cataclysm that make her feel uneasy or even guilty, because she will be the first of my characters to go through the new zones, and she will not know anything about what to expect — and because I will want her to pick up the zone loremastery achievements. Once she has discovered where the pitfalls lie, my other characters will be better informed to choose whether or not to do the morally queasy quests according to their own personalities.


  1. lol!casual « Righteous Orbs
  2. The Scoop « Ethermead
  3. Allegiance « Pugging Pally

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: