WoW! Thoughts! — On Randomness in the Cradle of Chi-ji

Thoughts on how randomness can serve an MMO well except when blocking access to the narrative.


We’re now over ten months into Mists of Pandaria and the final patch is nigh.  I’m comfortably progressing through the Throne of Thunder.  I’ve completed the Darkspear Revolutionary quests.  I’ve done all the Isle of Thunder dailies I can stomach.  I haven’t touched pet battles, but I have no desire to drastically change my WoW experience.  Over the last ten months, I’ve had time to complete everything I’ve wanted to on my main character, with one exception — I haven’t completed the August Celestial dailies yet.

Do not get confused — I reached exalted reputation with the August Celestials long ago.  The problem is that the way Blizzard implemented daily quests for this faction, resulting in a lengthy delay to resolve the story.

At Mists‘ launch, the daily quest limit of twenty-five was removed, as there were now seven daily quest hubs for the factions introduced in Mists.  Blizzard touted that there were over three hundred different daily quests to be done, with only forty-eight of them available on any given day.  Each hub had three or four sets of about six quests that would randomly be available on any given server on any given day.  This alleviated much of the tedium that can occur when grinding a reputation to exalted.

Along with these quests, each faction got a story that progressed as a player’s reputation increased with a given faction.  Upon reaching exalted with the Klaxxi, the mantid elders trusted the player enough to reveal their association with the Old Gods.  Upon reaching exalted with the Golden Lotus, the player had to aid in repelling a full mogu invasion of the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. The August Celestials were unique in addition to having one quest hub with a narrative, they have three others with minimal story.

Sages Whiteheart and Lotusbloom are the two August Celestial Quartermasters stationed at the Shrines in the Vale of the Eternal Blossoms.  Each day, they offer players one of four quests for assisting one of the August Celestials: Niuzao the Black Ox, Yu-lon the Jade Dragon, Xuen the White Tiger, and Chi-ji the Red Crane.  Each of these four deities are positioned at the four cardinal points of the continent, and players will be familiar with them; having encountered them while questing to level 90.  Upon arriving at each of these locations, players are given their daily allotment of faction quests.

At Niuzao Temple, players must repel a mantid invasion.  At the Temple of the Jade Serpent, players must defend against a sha infestation.  At the Temple of the White Tiger, players compete in a combat tournament.  At the Cradle of Chi-ji, players study to learn the ways of the Crane (by fighting).   There is no progressing story while fighting the mantid or the sha, and while there are two sets of opponent sequences to face off against at the Temple of the White Tiger (winning all eight fights yields the Finish Them achievement), the Cradle of Chi-ji is the only hub that tells a story proper.

Each time you are sent to the Cradle, Thelonius (a monk!) first sends you off to fight some of the lesser students, but afterwards, he will have you fight a specific Student of the Red Crane.  I would like to talk more about the story that occurs here, but I can’t, because I haven’t completed the story myself.  When I did my quests to earn exalted, I only got sent to the Cradle of Chi-ji once.  I’ve been checking with Sage Lotuslboom on a regular basis since then, but more often than not she will provide the opportunity to fight in Xuen’s tournament than she will send me to battle students in the Cradle.

Oddly enough, at launch, the Chi-ji quests were available each day regardless of which hub should be active, but that was apparently a bug that was subsequently hot-fixed.  The end result is that after ten months, one of the few items on my checklist remains unchecked: to see all of the storylines that Blizzard has put into Mists of Pandaria.  I could argue that it’s unfair that such a lengthy quest-chain is impeded by being randomly mixed in with what is effectively filler quests, or I could be disappointed that there is no great climax to the August Celestials questing as there is with the other factions, but at this point I’m just confused.

What I’ve seen of the story so far (a rival student emerges and can’t deal with your awesomeness) has been intriguing.  It is just frustrating because I’ve been hampered from advancing the plot.  It’s like trying to watch a TV show, except that you don’t know when it is on, and to make matters worse, the network keeps changing the timeslot.  Those kinds of decisions are generally death knells for TV shows, as it handicaps the show’s ability to gain an audience.  The same factors apply here, as instead of feeling excited that several different quests were available to me as I leveled, the randomness has effectively locked me out of experiencing content.

I’ve had bad luck with randomness before, as I’m sure we all have; some items just never drop.  But while drops are essentially dice rolls at the time of a boss kill, this sort of randomness is punishing because not only do I need the right quest hub to become available (at what should be a 25% chance), but it has to happen on a day that I play the game (most, but not all days) and it has to happen on a day I pass through the Shrine (which is happening less frequently now that the story of Mists has moved to Kalimdor).

My curiosity remains to see this quest line through, and I’m sure I will.  I just don’t know how much longer that’s going to take.

WoW! Blurbs!

WoW down to 7.7 million subscribers.  And they all left because they couldn’t finish the Cradle of Chi-ji.  Everyone told me.

There’s going to be some crazy loot on the Timeless Isle in Patch 5.4.  The Censer of Eternal Agony must be what it feels like to be a mob.

Nick Zielenkievicz
Nick Zielenkievicz
Nick Zielenkievicz

Senior Producer

Host of WoW! Talk! and The Tauren & The Goblin. Sometimes known as the Video Games Public Defender. Wants to play more Destiny and Marvel Heroes but WoW is all-consuming. Decent F2P Hearthstone player. Sad that he lost the Wii that had Wrecking Crew on it. Would be happy if the only game ever made was M.U.L.E. Gragtharr on Skywall-US. Garresque on Ravencrest-US.

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