The WORLD OF WARCRAFT mmorpg is an institution in digital adventuring. An epic fantasy game set in the land of Azeroth, it’s got a lot of the good stuff that you associate with the sword-and-board set – there’re dragons, medieval weaponry, and magic. But like any place worth living in, it’s a strange world, full of stories both grand and grotesque – some even surprisingly so. After questing in Azeroth for over a decade, I can confidently say that these are five of the creepiest quests the game has to offer.
Quest: The Rebel Lord’s Arsenal
Azeroth has its own version of werewolves, the “worgen”. With the Cataclysm expansion, the worgen finally became a playable race – a delight for crossover WARCRAFT/GINGER SNAPS fans everywhere. However, when you select a worgen and enter the game, you don’t start out with fangs and a major depilatory problem, you’re a human – a human in the center of a walled city that’s beginning to be overtaken by werewolves. There are a lot of great atmospheric touches that add to the creep factor here; dialogue lines from panicked citizens, scraps of paper floating in the air, a flock of crows that flees at your approach, and the glorious cake-topper – a gothic Victorian British aesthetic that lingers in the lovely accents of the NPCs (non-player characters).
The quest The Rebel Lord’s Arsenal doesn’t seem very remarkable – you’re ordered to find a character and “talk” to him (which in WARCRAFT is generally a one-click affair) – but the fact that you are human, and not worgen yet, has created an atmosphere of expectant tension. You know you will change into a worgen, but you don’t know how or when. So the creepiness of this quest lies in its thwarting of player expectations – a standard, “boring” quest suddenly comes off as startling because yes, this is when you get bitten. To make it more alarming, a debuff appears on your character. If this isn’t your first Azerothian rodeo, you know the toxic nature of debuffs – these are damaging spells with a wide array of problematic consequences – and this one is named “Worgen Bite”. You can’t get rid of the bite, and a bit further along in the quest chain, your character will wake up in wooden stocks, after being chastised via cut scene for all the hideous violent crimes you’ve been committing as a monster.
Although not everyone loves how long and potentially confining the worgen starting zone is (an issue primarily for players who want to get to a major city promptly), it’s worth a play-through for the creepiness alone. Because the worgen are Alliance-only characters, this quest is, naturally, Alliance-only.
Quest: Pamela’s Doll
This quest chain has the informal reputation of being one of the saddest in the game. In the Eastern Plaguelands, an area with a major undead infestation problem, and within the abandoned town of Darrowshire, a little ghost girl lingers in a house. Her name is Pamela, and she’s lonely and frightened and wants her dolly.
It’s Pamela’s fate that is so charmingly sympathetic and creepy all at once; over the course of completing quests that begin with Pamela’s Doll, you learn more about her. Pamela had a brave father that died while attempting to defend her and the entire town of Darrowshire, and he told her to stay in the house. Pamela was faithful to her father’s instructions, and died there. But her doll was torn into pieces and scattered throughout the town, and Pamela is afraid to leave the house. She is stuck in her nightmarish predicament of eternal damnation, tragically, by being “a good girl”. It is a horrifying story, softened somewhat with Cataclysm’s addition of a new quest chain that allows you to “carry” her doll in the Eastern Plaguelands zone. If you do that, she will periodically materialize and hang out with you – so Pamela at least gets to leave the house a bit now – under your supervision.
You need to be at least level 39 to accept this quest, but it’s open to both Horde and Alliance players.
Quest: The Art of Persuasion
When this quest first came out with the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, many people deemed it quest-ionable, to say the least. There’s a heavy creepiness factor here because the player is forced to torture an NPC in order to complete it. You are given a magical pain-inflictor called the Neural Needler, and are required to apply it several times to the NPC before he “confesses”. Each time you apply it, he cries out in pain – letting you know full well that you are doing an awful thing. There are whiffs of the Milgram experiment about this, although knowing that the NPC is ultimately a digital entity undermines the thrust of it somewhat.
What really left a bad taste in a lot of mouths was the fact that you could actually continue to torture the NPC after you finished the quest, summoning new lines of dialogue as a sort of weird reward for unlocking the (unofficial) torture Easter egg. You can even find another NPC in the tower, buy a new Neural Needler, and go to town on that unfortunate, eternally chair-bound victim whenever you want. I could be doing that right now, for all you know. Creepy!
This quest requires a minimum of level 69, and is available to both Horde and Alliance players.
Quest: Cheer Up, Yi-Mo
The creepiness of this quest is enhanced by the fact that many players don’t see it as being creepy at all. A lot of the quests in Pandaria have to do with feelings and emotions – and the tangible consequences that these emotions can manifest (usually in the form of something you can kill – which sadly doesn’t work in real life). In this quest chain, the residents of Zhu’s Watch are afflicted by a mysterious depression. Yi-Mo is a pandaren (or panda-person) who is so depressed, he has decided to lay outside and let birds of prey tear him apart. As the player, you are required to “save” Yi-Mo, and do so by kicking him, repeatedly.
That’s right – you are asked to physically beat an NPC suffering from depression to “rescue” him. The sheer skeeve factor inherent in this task is masked by odd things; the pandaren rolls when you kick him, which is comical, one supposes, because he is a panda, and pandas are seen as cute, roly poly creatures. Yi-Mo’s very name is a close homophone with “emo” – a term which holds a great deal of derogatory social baggage, but is often used in humorous context. While he is being beaten, Yi-Mo cries out to the birds above, begging them to end his life – this temporarily summons some birds for the player to defeat. In this manner, Yi-Mo’s cries for help become a trigger of frustration for the player, who has to work harder to “save” the pandaren.
Overall, because the quest is written from the perspective of someone unempathetic with depression, it comes across as incredibly dismissive and cruel – sadness is something to be beaten out of you, merely because it is annoying to others. It’s creepy to find out that this callous perspective is so pervasive, it’s considered a joke.
This quest requires a minimum of level 86, and is available to both Horde and Alliance players.
Quest: Do the Right Thing (COVER PHOTO)
Do the Right Thing is an interesting quest that actually gives players an ethical option that has no punishment or reward baked into it. You can, indeed, choose to “Do the Right Thing” – or the wrong one – you’ll get the same reward for finishing, no matter what you do. Regardless of the decision you make, this quest is steeped in creepy.
A bunch of humans have been planted in the ground MOTEL HELL-style, leaving only their heads exposed. Ghouls keep munching on them, so we now have concrete evidence that the undead have a very poor grasp of agriculture. Oh, and you can choose to save the victims – either by right-clicking on the poor sods to yank them out of the earth – or you can just take a shovel and bash their brains out.
It’s a creepy set up, and as a reward you can keep your very own Shovel of Mercy, because who doesn’t love a good murder souvenir?
You must be at least level 19 to bash in heads – or not. Sadly – or happily – this quest is Horde-only.