If a future patch adds more raid-dropped pets like those introduced in 5.1, what pets would you like to see? What raid and boss would they be available from?
Topic suggested by Effraeti of Awaiting the Muse
This is an interesting question not only because it's a nice creative outlet, but because it has me thinking all about which bosses stand out from the rest and why. What makes a boss memorable? How do you encapsulate it in a pet?
I'm not much of a designer, but I've picked out a few of my favourite bosses, each memorable for a different reason, and taken a wild stab at imagining up a pet for them.
Fight mechanic: Magtheridon
Some boss encounters stand out because they include an unusual, often visually unique mechanic. They're not necessarily hard to master, but they demand attention and they're the aspect of the fight you won't readily forget.
In Magtheridon's case, there are the Manticron Cubes. All five of these cubes have to be clicked simultaneously to interrupt Magtheridon's Blast Nova, or death occurs. Failure with the cubes was the primary cause of wipes on this fight back when it was current content.
When a boss fight involves a memorable spell or object, it makes sense to reference that with the pet, perhaps by including the object as the pet, or having the pet use the spell as an idle animation or a battle skill.
In Magtheridon's case, I think one of the cubes would make a great pet. They're already rendered, they're already animated, they're distinct and they give Blizzard a chance to reference one thing or another, as Blizzard loves to do.
Others like this:
Netherspite from Karazhan. Maybe he's a good candidate for a spectral whelpling, but I'd actually prefer to see some reference to Netherspite's coloured portals. I don't think it'd be too hard to resize the existing models to fit in with the other pets, and have it cast a beam at the player from time to time when summoned as a companion pet. It might change colours periodically, or there could be three variations to collect: red, blue and green.
Majordomo Staghelm. Because he has two excellent forms and I want tiny versions of both. Thinking about it, as a druid he's all about shapeshifting. I wouldn't mind a pet that swaps between cat and scorpion form as it pleases. Imagine if the battle pet had a form-swap skill that changed its other three skills between cat and scorp? That'd be a pretty versatile pet.
Yor'sahj the Unsleeping. Multi-coloured slimes! Collect them all! Stop DPSing green in LFR!
There are an awful lot of fantastic-looking creatures in the game, memorable simply because they look so damn pretty, and here's one that needs no accompanying justification as to why I'm including it:
When a boss looks that good, there's obviously going to be little incentive to really move away from that existing design, so I feel the majority of bosses that fall into this category would generally be best off dropping miniatures of themselves.
I agree with her. Is there a way around that kind of hubris, or would possession of a Naaru pet put us in much the same role as the Sin'dorei? (Y'know, cruel captors doing a terrible thing - until it turns out our Naaru was just humouring us all along, so as to redeem our levelling team and its sad dependence on beasts.)
I think an effigy would be a great way to get the pet without the heresy. The Naaru clearly have no problem with idols, so why not carve some gems or a bit of the Exodar into Naaru-shaped pieces, hit 'em with an enchantment for light and movement, and start selling them on street corners (or, yeah, dropping them from raid bosses)?
Personally, I'd buy one from even the shadiest dealer.
Others like this:
Magmaw from Blackwing Descent. This model isn't unique, no, but it is fantastic, and that's good enough for me. I think Magmaw's Pillar of Flame would translate well into pet battles, too. Switch pets within four turns or take heavy fire damage.
Twin Val'kyr from Trial of the Crusader. It's no coincidence that so many posts included the Val'kyr as great pet fodder. They really stand out amongst the often-bland models of the Scourge, and I say that as someone who adores the undead above all other mob types. I'm not sure simply scaling the val'kyr model down would necessarily work, but retaining the particular semi-translucent textures that make up their bodies and wings and using them for a smaller, more faerie-esque model might look good.
There are boss fights in which adds play an integral role, to the point at which they're just as important and as memorable as the boss itself. Shannox is a fair example of this. He has two pets, Rageface and Riplimb, and the raid's success depends on their ability to nuke them down, kite them about and snare them in traps.
Shannox himself is comparatively tank-and-spank, with a bit of kiting when he legs it for his spear, and a bit of attention to the ground so you don't get your leg snapped off in a trap. It really is his interaction with his pets that make him interesting as a fight.
One of my main points of contention with the idea of pets that are simply sized-down duplicates of the boss that drops them is that most raid bosses are insanely huge. They look wrong at companion pet size, and it seems a bit demeaning for some of the more badass boss-beasts.
Adds provide a pretty straightforward alternative to boss-minis: distribute add-minis instead. They reference the fight just as effectively, and you get the additional amusement of having made off with the boss's best friend.
When there's a community demand for more dog pets and a raid fight involves a lot of playing fetch, I think it would be criminal not to have Shannox drop a mini lava dog.
Others like this
Alysrazor from Firelands. Her encounter involves two Voracious Hatchlings, whose primary purpose is to encourage the maternal instincts of the two tanks looking after them. After weathering their tantrums and spoiling them with treats, we should definitely be able to loot some tiny magma bird-dragons.
Halfus Wyrmbreaker from Bastion of Twilight. The whole fight pivots around which dragon adds are awake each week, and which order you free them in. There are five: Slate Dragon, Nether Scion, Time Warden, a small swarm of Emerald Whelps, and Storm Rider. How many potential dragon whelpling drops does that add up to? Oh, weeks and weeks of farming. Weeks and weeks and weeks and...
Lore prominence: Anub'arak
Anub'arak is camera shy, but Anub'rekhan was willing to pose. Image from the TCG.
Traitor King of the Nerubians, majordomo to the Lich King, chief partycrasher of the Argent Tournament, Anub'arak features as the final boss of Trial of the Crusader (and Azjol-Nerub, but let's not make these pet drops too easy).
Although his treatment in Wrath was somewhat lacklustre, Anub'arak was essentially the player's guide through the Scourge territories of the north in Warcraft III, and is a prominent member of the undead. It was his conversation with Kel'thuzad that first suggested the Lich King could force obedience from his risen subjects.
Kel'thuzad: In return for immortality, you agreed to serve him. Remarkable.
Anub'arak: 'Agreed' implies choice.
He's a boss who's known as a character: as a reoccurring part of Warcraft lore.
Any pet dropped by a boss with such a strong storyline should be a form of tribute to the personality, themes or conflicts of that character. Fight complexities and the precise model that represents the character in-game are secondary here: awe and enthusiasm are drummed up by just who you've been allowed to fight, and that should be echoed in the pet.
Anub’arak embodies a lot of the central aspects of undeath: the blurred lines between loyalty, servitude and slavery; the definition and worth of immortality; and the reality of turning on your own people.
My suggested drop, therefore, is a Nerubian pet. Hell, “Nerubian pet” alone references just what the Traitor King delivered his people into, a position as possessions of Ner’zhul. In death, Anub’arak offers up his subjects to be subjugated.
An important part of crafting a character in a story is allowing them to develop and progress, of course. I feel a series of lore pets that flicker between before and after would be quite striking: what if Anub'arak's drop shifted between living and undead Nerubian models? Before his betrayal and their enslavement, after his betrayal and their enslavement.
I would have that pet out all the time.
Others like this
Sindragosa from Icecrown Citadel. Raised in the Wrath of the Lich King cinematic, in possession of a particularly tragic death, Sindragosa deserves all the recognition she can get. I don't think a whelpling would be a particularly respectful tribute to the dragon who was prime-consort of Malygos when the Dragon Soul decimated their flight, but a small-scale version of her would be nice, perhaps based on the same general shape and animations as the Wind Rider Cub. Again, it could flicker between living blue dragon and undead.
Lady Vashj of Serpentshrine Cavern. Handmaiden to Azshara, leader of the naga in Outland, Vashj isn't such a prime candidate for the form-flicker effect I've suggested above. Rather, I think the clash between her elven beauty and her monstrosity could be referenced effectively with a particularly pretty aquatic pet, played against the hideous naga form you would have to defeat to earn it. I'm thinking a variation of the real-world Lionfish: graceful fins and deadly barbs.
Smaller-scale character lore: Atramedes
Some bosses aren't big lore stars, but they gain personality and back story through the inclusion of descriptive questlines or in-game scenes. These are usually intended to make the player engage with the character, through sympathy, curiosity or dislike.
Atramedes is one of these bosses. Clear the trash in his section of Blackrock Descent and a scene plays out for your raid, in which Maloriak's experiments blind Atramedes and Nefarian steps in to spare the crippled whelpling's life, for no greater reason than to spite Maloriak. Atramedes lives as a failure, subject of scorn from Nefarian and bitterness from Maloriak.
With characters like Atramedes, I feel an aspect of their personal lore should influence their pet, be it an important object, a creature, some part of their personality, or their personal goal. These backstories, after all, transform each boss into three-dimensional and often sympathetic characters, even when the raid is wailing on them for loot.
For Atramedes, I think his pet should be his whelpling self. Not the standard black flight whelpling that represents him in the flashback, but the freshly-blinded hatchling who has to learn to live without his eyes: the one the scene predicts but never explores.
The pet might occasionally sound out tentative bursts of his distinctive sonar pulses: practice for seeking you out to roast later in life, of course, and adorable in its way - but also tragic, when you pair it with his backstory.
Others like this
Gruul the Dragonslayer. Because he's known for slaying dragons, right? No. Because he has so many sons. After spending a fair amount of time legging it around Blade's Edge killing seven of them, I don't think any of us are above stealing his most recent offspring for pet battles. It'd be nice if the little gronn showed its bloodline by smacking any dragon pets other players had summoned.
Sartharion, guardian of the Twilight eggs. Sartharion's purpose is to keep the twilight eggs safe. As the only Twilight broodmother was put to death for having the audacity to produce a Twilight egg naturally, Sarth is the prime candidate for providing a Twilight whelpling: one of his tiny charges he's failed to protect.
Community recognition: Shade of Aran
Shade of Aran from Karazhan. Art from the TCG.
Some bosses are made famous by the community's response to them. They feature in Youtube videos; they're parodied; they become in-jokes; they become memes; their lore backgrounds, models and fight mechanics play second fiddle to whatever (sometimes arbitrarily chosen) part of them the community adores.
Shade of Aran is one of these. He casts Flame Wreath, which places a ring of fire around raid members. Anyone who crosses a ring causes it to detonate, dealing heavy damage to the raid.
Naturally, there was soon a song:
In this case, I'd want to reference the spell more than the boss himself. It's the spell that grabbed the community's enthusiasm in the past, so it makes sense to emphasize it the second time around too.
Shade of Aran is in Karazhan's library, with books on the floor in the rooms leading up to him which provide a temporary buff when you use them. As a result, I think the Lofty Libram look would be a good base for the pet, rather than creating an unique model.
Distinction from the libram would come in two forms.
The first: a battle pet technique that placed a wreath of fire on the ground around the opposing team, causing all three to take fire damage if a pet swapped out.
The second: an idle animation when summoned as a companion pet. If the player stood still long enough, Aran's spellbook (Spectral Spellbook, maybe?) could cast circles of flame around all surrounding players, lasting maybe ten seconds. If anyone passed through the circles... firework explosion! The AH would be on fire in no-time.
Others like this:
Onyxia and her Deep Breath. Ony herself is an iconic boss already, but her Deep Breath (or maybe her Deep Breath's bugginess) is sufficiently legendary that the Onyxian Whelpling has a miniature version of it, occasionally taking a breath and blowing a smoke ring.
Thorim's in the mountains. The community made such a big deal of this quote that a fitting battle pet wouldn't need to have anything to do with the bloody mountains - just have it say "I remember you..." if ever you click on it.
Gunship, because the community has (more accurately) named it Lootship. There's only one viable pet for this boss to drop, and it's not an excellent miniature of either faction's airship, it's a loot chest. Because all there is to this fight is loot.
Personal raid experience: Nightbane
Nightbane from Karazhan. Art from the TCG.
I remember Nightbane for a particular mistake I made over and over again.
He likes to take off and leave the raid to deal with adds on the ground while he flaps about being a pain. The raid takes down the adds; Nightbane flaps back down and lands; the tank picks him up; you get back to nuking.
However, my tank was a bit slow, and I was in the habit of drinking mana potions on cooldown, and Nightbane really hated those mana potions. On top of all that, I can be a fairly forgetful raider at times.
It may have been that, roughly every other fight with Nightbane, some separated by wipes, some by the weekly reset, I would drink a mana potion as he was landing, and he would spin around and dragon me in the face.
It didn't seem to matter if I hit Fade as well, the face-dragoning would still occur. Perhaps he was expressing his concerns over my mana potion addiction, we will never know. But I will forever remember that fight as the one to train my raid group in the lost art of the synchronised facepalm, and me in shouting NO WHY whenever I clicked a damn potion.
You'll note I haven't actually picked out an aspect of Nightbane to encapsulate in the pet. This is because he doesn't have (in my opinion) a particularly brilliant fight, stand out skills, epic lines, an out-there model, or memorable loot (shh, it isn't Bulwark). I remember him in particular because of personal experience.
I think a fair few bosses are like this. It's not that they're exceptionally dull, it's just that they're not exceptional in their own right. Instead they gain meaning from all the ridiculous wipes, all the guild in-jokes, and all the various near misses and heroic saves that WoW's multiplayer nature nurtures.
And you know, I wasn’t too chuffed with the proportion of the pets added with Raiding with Leashes that are mini versions of the bosses that drop them. I didn’t see why Blizzard would go that way; I didn’t think that mini draconoids or mindslayers made a lot of sense, especially not when you see them fighting alongside or against house cats, moths and Singing Sunflowers.
Now that I’ve sat down and thought about it properly, I understand. World of Warcraft’s bosses gain dimension based on each player’s personal experience of them. Unless something becomes a meme or has a truly exceptional voice, model or fight mechanic, how can Blizzard predict exactly which aspect of a boss will bring up all the right memories?
Past a bit of hopeful hypothesising, they can’t – so they default to a miniature, because that is the most direct way of referencing the boss experience as a whole: skills, aesthetics, voice and each raider’s personal experience of them.
I think that might just be the core aim of Raiding with Leashes. Longterm players are brought back to nostalgic locations, and relative newbies are sent into corners of the world they might otherwise have missed, to create new memories of old content.
If RNG wasn't such a miserly bugger, they might even get some souvenirs.