Feeling a bit out of ideas for character concepts? Try archeology.
Take a quick look around! Ulduar is just the most obvious example, but there are ancient ruins and caves pretty much anywhere in Azeroth. Pretty much every single one of them has some sort of ruin/cave/haunted castle you could lose yourself in for fun and profit. For example, pretty much any area with a native NPC Troll population (Stranglethorn, Hinterlands…) is bound to have some ruined temple or other equally ancient structure to explore and/or pillage IC. Sure, you’ll probably have to content yourself with just going around mouldy caves for the first few levels (Westfall comes to mind, not a lot of archeology to do there…), but things get a lot more interesting after level 20. And even better: the Outland is a veritable gold mine for archaeological opportunities, what with all those remains of orcish and draenei civilization, and Northrend is pretty much all about the stuff, going all the way up to Ulduar!
And hey, just because the level 80s are already kicking Old Gods in the chin(s) in Northrend and doing their own IC research, don’t think you can’t have fun at the lower levels! Sure, Ulduar is all the rage now, but there’s still fun to be had while mowing down troggs and earthen down in Uldaman. Research is research, old digs can always be reopened and combed through for more useful information, even more if the dig site itself is hard to reach (think Maraudon) or otherwise in constant danger (Uldaman itself).
Of course, we’re using “Archeology” as a pretty wide gamut of stereotypes with very little to do with actual, real-life archeology. Even the least-adventurous types are generally more about SCIENCE! than actual, run-of-the-mill garden-variety Science. Since we’re talking fantastic fantasy here, there’s a lot of stuff to do in that field. It goes from Indiana Jones (pictured!) to Smithsonian Institute, so let’s go over some stereotypes and see how they apply to WoW:
THE DUNGEON CRAWLER
That’s the classic archaeologist in fantasy and action fiction: the Indiana Jones (or the Lara Croft nowadays). Boldly going where no one else’s been for the last thousand years or so, the Dungeon Crawler sneaks around and defeats ancient guardians to get to treasures and artifacts in the end of today’s dungeon, all with a lot of dirt on their still-stylish outfit. The most adventurous of the stereotypes we’ll present today, the Dungeon Crawler is the only one who will actively go after trouble instead of having trouble coming after him. A Dungeon Crawler is defined by his or her style.
A Dungeon Crawler’s motivation might be greed, fame, or simply the thrill of being (often generally) alone in the dark but always close to action. As a self-sufficient character, Warriors, Rogues and Hunters tend to make good DCs by class concept alone, and a dedicated DC will find something to do virtually everywhere zone in Azeroth. Every underground formation, abandoned fortress and ruin is a new opportunity to come up with new stories of how your character survived/outwitted his/her last encounter with huge living statues or packs of angry [insert mob name here].
While the Dungeon Crawler spends his time getting down’n’dirty with invariably ultra-territorial denizens of holes in the ground all over the world, the Scholars are the ones who actually get all the paperwork and researching done. Sounds boring? It isn’t. While the Scholar will probably never get too close to any dangerous digs unless with a few escorts and guides (read: grouped up, instancing or raiding), you can still be very creative when describing their (from wacky to feasible) theories over the events in the past. You can be mind-numbingly boring (“And so we learned that ::very long-winded explanation about the mating rituals of ancient trolls:: and that’s why they became extinct”) or very gripping and whimsical (“You see, this Associate of mine just sent me some new evidence from the Hellfire Peninsula digs! It’s astounding, the primitive Orcs seem to have developed a whole culture over the worship of a little black rock they called ‘Ka-Thoom’!”).
The main theme on the Scholar stereotype is knowledge, making it this one have Mage, Warlock and Priest written all over it. Regardless of it being knowledge for knowledge’s sake, for one’s own benefit (goes well with Warlocks researching demonic structures in Outland/Northrend), or for some higher purpose (like the Dwarves trying to learn about their origins). Above all, it’s a mostly social character (even if you’re using a gruff stereotype), and a great way to talk about things without actually having to go anywhere, great for lazy Guild Chat afternoons.
THE FIELD AGENT
So Dungeon Crawlers find and explore the digs, and the Scholars butt heads together until they come up with a good conclusion based on what they’ve been told and the items that have been sent to them. What’s the missing link in that chain? The Field Agents, the guys who actually get in there with the shovel and tools, and unearths the secrets swallowed by the sands of time. Sure, the Dungeon Crawlers do get to bring back some interesting souvenirs from their trips for the Scholars to drool over from time to time, but the brunt of the digging and exploration is made by the Field Agents. Whole groups of them are at work this very moment, bringing things from the past back to the surface all over Azeroth! From the digs in Loch Modan and the ruins in Echo Isles, and all the way up to Northrend, you’ll see Field Agents of all races and factions at work!
This concept is fairly simple: all your character has to do is to be good at keeping ancient items intact, and to like digging. Any other talents are optional extras, which will surely be needed at some point, given the exceptionally dangerous state of many of Azeroth’s ruins and potential archaeological sites! Find yourself a nice place to start with and dig away, just be careful not to unleash some ancient threat into the world. Again.
You know those Scholars up there? They need someone to boss around. See the Dungeon Crawlers? Sometimes they need someone to stand watch (or check for traps!) while they sneak around with style and grace. Who does that? The Assistants! The guys who carry all the heavy bags and manage the pots and pans for whoever they are currently working for. The Assistant sometimes doesn’t even do much archeology. Instead, they complement their partner’s skills. A mage who’s obsessed with the secrets of ancient elven magic would need an Assistant who’s good at managing the mage’s tower, resources, research and safety, think of a butler/bodyguard (Hello, Alfred!). Meanwhile, the most interesting and dashing Dungeon Crawlers tend to have at least one weak side to them, so the Assistant fills that up nicely. Be it cooking the meals and carrying the picks and shovels, or doing the actual asking-around-for-rumors-of-forsaken-places-filled-with-ancient-treasure-while-the-hero-drinks-his-butt-off-at-the-local-inn.
Conversely, the Assistant could be a trainee, someone who’s still learning the tricks of her master’s trade. Using the previous examples, you could have an apprentice warrior who, although lacking in arcane talent, is resourceful enough to be useful to her mage superior, or a young hunter learning the tricks of cave exploration from a grizzled old druid. That’s beauty of the Assistant concept: it’s really, really versatile. It all depends on who your character works for and what they need you to do! It’s also very easy to change from Assistant to something else. If you try something and it doesn’t work for you IC or OOC, it’s okay: it’s part of the entire concept that you could leave it at any time. On the other hand, it’s fairly easy to promote your character to something else. Started as an artifact hunter’s assistant? Well, you can become an artifact hunter yourself, eventually! Or, who knows? Maybe your character could become interested in ancient languages, from seeing all those runes and glyphs all over the place!
Also, being an Assistant gives you a great excuse to not to be somewhere (due to RL issues and so on). Even if your employer is a player character (which is uncommon but definitely funny), it’s easy to come up with feasible reasons for your character (not) to be somewhere at a given time. Maybe he had to sweep the tower, or something.
WRAPPING IT UP!
Of course, those are just the very basic concepts I could come up with in a couple hours. You can have just as must fun by creating with your own, or simply mixing things up (a Dungeon Crawler/Scholar would make for a pretty interesting Indiana Jones-type character). If you already have a character and want to try getting into the exciting world of Azerothian Archeology, it’s also very easy! Just start as an Assistant and work your way up! I think all classes, except maybe Druids, Paladins and Shamans, could fit in without hassle. Heck, even if you are one of those classes you’d probably be able to find a good reason that your character likes exploring moldy ruins (besides, you know, because Random NPC #438 told him to) or talking about said moldy ruins.
So, here’s your pick/whip/quill and notepad! Get out there and have fun!
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