(See WoW Insider’s “Open Letter to Jaina Proudmoore” for backstory. Be warned of 5.4 spoilers!)
If it comes as a surprise to anyone that I love ladies behaving badly in Warcraft (and other storytelling mediums), then I invite you to take a gander at my two Blizzard Story contest entries, where I think about Blood Queen Lana’thel and Leyara’s histories, respectively.
It’s hard being Alliance for all your WoW-playing career and having a fascination with villainy, because they tend to either be a part of the Horde (Sylvanas) or quest/dungeon/raid bosses (Keristrasza, Leyara, BQL, ad nauseum). The Blizzard Story contest is, at the moment, defunct, but I had been planning exploring a Sylvanas story after reading Dave Kosak’s short story, Edge of Night, because I did find it very interesting that she wasn’t present at Arthas’ death.
A lot of this is born out of my frustration that women in Warcraft tend to be pushed to their limits by the storylines, and then callously abandoned to their fate (often death, at the hands of us “heroes”) when they’re deemed irredeemable. Keristrasza was captured, abused and forced to be Malygos’ consort after she murdered his previous one, and you have to kill her in the Nexus, an act which the wiki entry for her states “a sad, but necessary end.”
Lana’thel is forced into service for the Lich King when she faced him at Northrend, armed with her former friend’s blade Quel’delar, which she was overwhelmed by Frostmourne, and forced to serve him. (Sensing a theme?) Leyara’s grief and anger at the Horde, and her father-in-law’s madness leads her to ally with the minions of Ragnaros because she doesn’t feel she has anything left to live for (and she doesn’t even make it into the dungeons, you kill her during a quest chain.)
This female madness issue didn’t start with Wrath, nor end in Cata. In Pandaria, where strong emotions are made physically manifest in the Sha, both Suna Silentstrike and Liu Flameheart become infested with Sha, and the players are forced to kill them. It would not be so very telling if not for the fact that Tarah Zhu, leader of the Shado-Pan, is similarly affected, but in the dungeon where you encounter him, all the player needs to do is drive the Sha out of his body, and defeat it.
If that’s the case, why did Suna and Liu have to die? Their grief and doubt – at the loss of a beloved husband, the fear of failing your god – are perfectly reasonable within the context of their stories, which were created by the writers and quest developers. Why do the women of Warcraft only get one chance at redemption, and then only through death?
What’s even more fascinating is that this is a narrative that’s not just played out in the game and supplemental materials, but also in the fan base. Jaina factors into this because like Suna and Leyara, she’s lost loved ones, people she was a leader to. Her story has always been one of courage and of loss. SPOILERS for 5.4 to follow the cut:
Early yesterday morning, Blizzard announced the official winners of the 2011 Writing Contest!
Finalists (in alphabetical order):
“Anatomy of Demons” by David Patterson
“Daughter of Lordaeron” by Marika Kermode
“Echo of Pride” by Martin Arthur Paul Wilson
“Reforged” by Anthony Dickson
“The Future of Lordaeron” by Tyler F.M. Edwards
“The Heavier Burden” by Erica Cargle
“The Stranger” by Walter Handloser
“Ashes over Stormwind” by Ryan K. Stansifer
“Blood and Thunder” by Alex Boston
“Haven of the Windless Sea” by Celine Taillefer
“Iron Lady Down” by Joe Trela
“Isn’t Falstad Dead?” by Ian Casteen Bates
“A Mage’s Honor” by Geoffrey Walano
“Mending and Renewal” by James C. Reuss
“Pawned” by Ivan Carvalho
“Purity” by Tim Marrero
“The Short Happy Lives of the Southern Barrens Sapper Corps” by Nicholas Lampros
“Warrior’s Hands” by Allison Utterback
I’ll admit, there’s not much in the title of the winning entry to go on: it could easily be a WoW, Diablo or Starcraft, but if the past two winners are any indication, it will be excellent. On the forums, CM Daxxari said the following:
By way of explanation, our story contests inevitably prompt the innocent inquiry, “Can I post my story on my website?” This intonation regularly results in an altercation featuring a flurry of agitation, speculation, admonition, and inevitable degeneration into contention, to which it is my intention to add an adjudication which I hope will ease future consternation:
The stories can be posted, as long as they’re not used to directly generate revenue.
So, an author could use their story as part of a writing portfolio or post it on their website, and that would be fine so long as it isn’t used to generate income.
So if you submitted a story to the Writing Contest and would like it linked here, let me know! At the moment, any of the stories I’m aware of that have been posted have been linked above.
Congratulations to all the winner’s this year!
Things that are coming up way too fast for my tastes:
In both cases, I feel, in the words of Illidan, NOT PREPARED. Having to renew my passport in an emergency rush when I found out I was going to Blizzcon after all at the end of August made things feel like I had time, and all of the sudden Thanksgiving is over and it’s less than two weeks away. Not to mention I was distracted by a certain global story…. writing… contest.
If you’re going to be there, look for the girl with the shiny silver gnomish engineer goggles on the top of her head and say hey! I hope to be live-tweeting news from the following panels, so be sure to click my twitter button if you’ve a hankering for news on:
– Opening Ceremony
– WoW general preview
– Class Talent System (WoW)
– Blizzard Publishing
– Diablo III Lore
– Classes/Items/Professions Q&A (WoW)
– Open Q&A (WoW)
– Lore and Story Q&A (WoW)
– Closing Ceremony
And a discussion: are you excited about Nanowrimo’s new website? Are you participating this year? Let’s chat about your ideas!