I want a pony! Actually, I was hoping to get a ram as a riding mount for my gnome self. Normally gnomes get a Mechanostrider, and there's nothing wrong with that, but with the reputation system overhauled it is now far easier to gain exalted reputation level with a faction to let you ride a different mount. Lots of people aim to get a kitty, and for the obvious reason that they are good looking mounts. I have grown to like the ram, and as gnomes start in the same area as dwarves the initial reputation gains help you get started. But Knifey started out with an uphill climb to get to the same level as his friends, who had a head-start. I needed to gain levels quickly and I am most familiar with the human-infested Elwynn Forest, Westfall, Redridge Mountains and Duskwood quest areas. This is partly because I did them with my first character, but mostly because the Westfall quests are so bounteous and the quest mobs and items are evenly spread over the map enabling quest completion tremendously that it I ended up doing them with most characters so that I could level quickly. I have explored all the other areas, but for quick levels Westfall is the place to adventure for me.
So it was that Knifey headed to see Gryan Stoutmantle, stopping off to help horses and farmers along the way, and getting Baros Alexston's compass whilst I was there. I was planning to get some quick levels so that I would catch up with my friends and then head back to Loch Modan and Wetlands to rack up the Ironforge reputation so that I could get a ram. But the Stormwind reputation was increasing at a quick pace, and I remembered seeing gnome warlocks on their felsteeds and thinking how peculiarly good it looked. So it came to pass, quite naturally, that my plans changed and I decided I was going to get a pony instead. Not much needed to change with my plans for me to get my Stormwind reputation up to exalted, as I was still running around Redridge Mountains and Duskwood, I just needed to maintain my focus and plan a little. The only question was whether I could manage to gain enough reputation before I hit level 40.
I adventured further in Southshore and the surrounding area, also heading in to Arathi Highlands for the Stromgarde Keep quests. I did a couple of Desolace quests that were given by representatives of Stormwind, also heading that way to get the Scarlet Monastery quest. I investigated Kurzen's camp in Stranglethorn Vale to endear me further to Stormwind, ignoring the strangely partisan Nessingwary and his cadre, despite the number of quests they offer. And I was getting quite chummy with Stormwind, getting revered comments and expressions from the nobility therein. But it was not enough. My levels were climbing steadily as I completed all these quests and I was getting closer to being able to learn to ride, but without having earned the respect of the pony seller. Time to really suck up to the people that matter.
I collected cloth, lots of cloth. Wool, silk and mageweave were all handed in to the Stormwind Alliance Cloth Quartermaster. I risked upsetting new adventurers by running through Northshire Abbey, one-shotting all the wolves, kobolds and Defias members to help out the locals and gain their respect as being humble enough to remember them even though I was so powerful. My reputation increased by a couple of thousand points, but I still had a way to go. I could spend my time finding Stormwind diplomats the world over and doing what they required, hoping that it would be enough by the time I got to 40, or I could be more radical.
I was 38 and I still hadn't entered the Stockades, despite the warden being quite upset by the uprising. Maybe that was hurting my overall standing within the city, so I decided to redeem myself. I hadn't entered the Stockades because they are generally neglected, and for good reason as it is a claustrophobic place where the inmates have had their possessions stripped of them. It's difficult to fight in, with runners everywhere, and the mobs don't drop anything good. Without quests, there really is no incentive to enter. On the plus side, all the mobs are humanoid, making crowd control easier and my sap is useful, and it is small and quick to complete. But was I powerful enough to complete it at only 38, I wondered. I just got a more powerful sinister strike and upgraded my weapons to a sharper sword and dagger combination, and even got a leather headband instead of the cloth engineering goggles I've been wearing so far. I was optimistic, if not confident.
I asked the Stockade warden what his concerns were again, and previously had the good sense not to drop the quests from my log that I had picked up in Darkshire, Lakeshire, and Dun Modr, even though the latter, being given by a dwarf, probably wouldn't give Stormwind reputation (probably, because I still haven't handed it in, not having had opportunity to head to northern Wetlands yet). As I was going in, it seemed churlish not to do the dwarves a favour too. So Bazil Thredd, Dextren Ward, and Kam Deepfury needed to be killed for revenge or to quell the rebellious prisoners, and some draconian justice was to be meted out on the prisoners and convicts, whatever the distinction was between them, and I had to grab some headbands as proof whilst I was in there. I have my mission, I was heading in.
With careful use of stealth, my sap, and crippling poison and kidney punches to stop panicky, close-to-death inmates from fetching some friends the initial stages went quite smoothly. My tough leather armour was doing a good enough job of deflecting the blows from the relatively blunt makeshift weapons the prisoners were using. One or two prisoners called on a friend to help, but I was stabbing quickly enough for the occasional add not to be a problem, and careful enough with my pulls that I wasn't getting in to big trouble. I was pleasantly surprised by how smoothly it was all going. Kam Deepfury was killed, and I took his head as evidence. I got enough headbands from the prisoners, and had delivered enough justice on them for the warden to be happy. Bazil Thredd and his cohorts were despatched efficiently, although they beat me up quite well. I took Thredd's head as evidence of his death. I thought that would be sufficient. There was an awkward moment when approaching Dextren Ward's area when I had to pull more mobs than I was comfortable with. When I accidentally activated sprint (mapped to Opt-5) instead of kidney shot (5 by itself) to give myself a few seconds to bandage I got a bit worried about death, but some quick stabbing got me out of trouble with a little over 100 health to spare. I munched on some food and continued, getting Ward's attention by himself, and he was easy to take out without anyone helping him fight. I cut off his hand for someone to keep on a mantle somewhere. My bags were getting quite bloody, I was hoping it was worth the dry cleaning bill.
I survived a solo expedition to the Stockades! All six quests were complete, and I hadn't died once. I was quite pleased with myself. I ran around Stormwind, handing in the quests and assassinating Lord Gregor Escovar for kicks and reputation gains as a follow-up, before heading out to Lakeshire in Redridge Mountains to give a head or hand to someone. Whilst I was there I defeated the elite orc in the keep that was causing trouble for the town, gaining more reputation with Stormwind. Then on to Darkshire in Duskwood where I gave another hand or head to someone. The Stockade quests got me a good couple of thousand reputation gain, and I was finally nearly exalted. Just 400 more reputation or so and I would be there, ready to ride a pony in a level-and-a-half's time. And I knew just how to get that reputation: kill Van Cleef.
The first time I entered the Deadmines I hadn't got the quest to kill the Defias boss, and once I got the quest it had lingered in my log for ages, even after it had turned grey, because of the potential reputation gain and the neat chestpiece, the Tunic of Westfall. I abandoned the quest, as I knew I wouldn't be going in there with the main group, and I also knew that if I wanted to complete it I would have to head back to Westfall to enter the Deadmines whereupon I could pick up the quest again as well. As it turned out, a friend turned up with a shaman who wanted to kill Van Cleef, so we went in as a pair, a 38 rogue and 25 shaman. It was going to be a bloodbath.
The fighting in the Deadmines oddly enough didn't go quite as smoothly as my solo run through the Stockades. I thought this was odd, but realised that I was being more reckless because of the lower levels of the mobs, having a companion, and having a companion that could heal. I wasn't stealthing as much initially, nor sapping one of the mobs. It was an all-out stabathon. Nearer the end I collected my bloodrage and calmed the killing down a bit, but another mistake in intentions, trying to ambush instead of sapping, caused the death of my companion as I tried unsuccessfully to stop Captain Greenskin and his little helpers from noticing her. A quick corpse run and we were back facing Van Cleef. A proper sap of one and and some quick blades led to Van Cleef's quick death, and his minions fell soon after. Another head was cut off and put in my bag. That made four heads, including the orc in Redridge Mountains, and hand all stored in my bag in one afternoon.
Gryan Stoutmantle was happy to see me. Really happy. I was happy to see him too, because of the green flourish that signalled my new status as exalted with Stormwind. I considered it quite fitting that it was the death of Van Cleef that ultimately gained me my status. I had gathered almost no experience points for the whole of my adventures that afternoon, but my reputation had soared. My pony is assured.