The Hope of Kalimdor

. . . or, how to complete the Scepter of the Shifting Sands questline as a post-vanilla player at level 80.

 

With Cataclysm looming and the unavoidable reality that much of vanilla game content will be undergoing radical changes, completing this epic questline was at the top of my Cataclysm ‘bucket list,’ so to speak.

As someone who started playing mid-Burning Crusade and didn’t hit 70 until late in that expansion, my experience would have been nothing like that of a player who did this when it was current. I can only imagine how epic that must have felt – what I did was basically a re-enactment of something that once required weeks of raid farming, pesky drops and the help and assistance of an entire guild. I have an immense amount of respect for guildmates and other players who completed this when it was current.

Before I get started, I would like to say that there’s no achievement ding to indicate that you’ve done this, the Scepter isn’t equippable (it’s a white-quality item that stays in your bag) and you don’t get to physically bang the gong or earn the Black Qiraji Battle Tank mount or Scarab Lord title (and in my opinion, you shouldn’t be able to – the people who did this back in the day deserve something exclusive for such an accomplishment). But if you’re like me and enjoy lore, then it is well worth it indeed as it’s full of great items, cut-scenes, and stars a lot of major characters you don’t normally get to see in action (or at all).

If you’re thinking about doing it, it’s probably wise that you do it before Cataclysm as it requires you to go places that will be reformatted (e.g. Blackrock Mountain content) and involves characters who will be key players in the expansion.

Anyway, with that preface, here’s my guide to completing the Scepter of the Shifting Sands questline at level 80. I would have found a post that wrote out everything I needed, what was soloable and what wasn’t, the best order to do things in really handy, so I hope that other lore nerds might find this useful. Yes, there are walkthroughs out there already and also the wowwiki, but many are from a level 60 or 70 perspective and thus aren’t really a good indicator of what can and can’t be done on your own these days. I’ve tried to base my post structurally on the wowwiki walkthrough, but included what I was able to do on my own, and why I did things in the order I did. I hope it helps! (I’ve been working on this off and on over the past few days, so if I missed a typo or got something out of order, please feel free to correct me!

Stuff you’ll need (they’re weird items, so worth keeping an eye on the AH throughout):

Getting Started:

The chain starts from Baristolth in Cenarion Hold in Silithus. After a simple lead-in quest, he’ll give you Only One May Rise, which requires you to go to Blackwing Lair to retrieve the head of the Broodlord Lashlayer (100% drop). Remember that BWL itself has an attunement chain! You’ll probably need about 4 or 5 other friends to do this with you – mainly because of things like mechanics in the Vaelastrasz fight. The more, the better, of course.

Another thing to consider is that much later in the chain, you will need 10 Elementium Ores which drop only from BWL and the drop rate for this item is  quite low. This could be a potential roadblock for players.  If you’re planning on doing this chain, check the AH frequently for them – they usually go for about 500g each on my server. It’s also worth posting on your realm forums to see if anyone is willing to sell them to you. Otherwise, you’re going to be farming BWL trash a lot!

Once you’ve got the head of the Broodlord, go back to Silithus and talk to Baristolth. He’ll give you a green-quality item that you can keep in your bags, allowing you to become an Agent of Nozdormu. You can’t proceed any further along this questline until you are Neutral with the Brood of Nozdormu, and all players start out at Hated.

There are a couple of different ways to grind Brood rep:

  • AQ20. This can be cleared fairly easily by three ICC-geared players, but does not award Brood rep past a certain point.
  • AQ40. Again, I was able to get into pugs for this, which mostly consisted of between 10-15 level 80s. Even now not all of the fights are a complete faceroll; you’ll probably want to read up on the Twin Emperors and C’Thun just to get a handle on the basics. A full clear grants a ton of rep though, so if this is feasible for you, I recommend you do it.
  • Killing squillions of silithid. As an Agent of Nozdormu (keep this item in your bag at all times!), you can farm mobs for Silithid Carapace Fragments and turn them in each time you get 200 pieces. Each time you turn in 200 pieces, you’re granted an item that allows you to make another player a Proxy of Nozdormu, which means they can also farm the fragments for you. I know 200 sounds like a ton, but they drop in multiples (the best drop rates are in Hive’Regal). It would take me about 20 minutes to farm 200 pieces.

I was able to reach Neutral after two full clears of AQ40 and two turn-ins of carapace fragments. How you choose to grind rep depends on the resources available to you, really. At this point, Baristolth will send you to talk to Anachronos (Oh! He also gives you a white-quality book called The War of the Shifting Sands which gives you some background info about Fandral Staghelm, and is just a neat lore item), outside of the Caverns of Time. You’ll also find that this part has a great cutscene of events from the War of the Shifting Sands. After this, Anachronos tells you that you’ll need to seek out the three shards of the the Scepter that were given to the other Dragonflights, but gives you no further quests. At this point, the chain splits into three forks and merges again at the end when you have completed them all.

Green Shard Chain:

I started out with this one mostly because it’s the easiest to do independently of the other two, and has the most soloable content. (Also, I’m a druid, and it’s packed with druid lore. :) For this fork, you’ll need to go to Sunken Temple. In the Shade of Eranikus‘ room, Malfurion Stormrage will appear (make sure you talk to him before engaging the Shade). He’ll tell you that you need to gather four shards from each of the portals to the Emerald Dream (Dream Bough in Feralas, Bough Shadow in Ashenvale, Seradane in the Hinterlands and the Twilight Grove in Duskwood) to summon Eranikus in Moonglade.

The first three are easy – they just drop off of the elite dragonkin patrolling around the portals. The fourth is trickier as it drops off the Twilight Corrupter in Duskwood, who is an old world raid boss. When you enter the Twilight Grove, you’ll get a whisper from him – he spawns near the moonwell in the northeastern corner. Now here’s the thing he is soloable. I had a friend helping me out with the green shard chain, and the fact that we were grouped up actually worked against us; the Corrupter would mind control one of us and we’d end up oneshotting the other. It turns out I just had to fight him solo while my friend stood and watched. :) I’m a moonkin in full 251 Tier 10 and some 264 pieces and was able to solo him. One thing you need to do though is pull him so that you’re fighting him with your back up against the hills surrounding the Grove, behind the moonwell. He has a knockback ability and if you fight him elsewhere, he’ll evade and go back to full health. Anyways, yeah – it took me a while to kill him since he’s got a ton of health, but I just kept rolling HoTs, innervated and he went down; he won’t mind control if you solo him.

Now you can head to Moonglade to summon Eranikus by talking to Remulos. This fight could probably be soloed depending on the class, but I didn’t want to take any chances so I brought a tank-capable friend. It starts out with you killing some shade adds that Eranikus summons (the Nighthaven NPCs will be fighting these as well, but it’s down to you to get them killed), then he’ll land and you can attack him directly. It’s important that you don’t actually kill him; you just need to get him down until Tyrande Whisperwind arrives to purge him of the Nightmare.

Another thing: if you are on a PvP server, be careful if there are druids of the opposing faction hanging out while you do this fight; any sort of splash damage will aggro the Nighthaven guards and then you’ll have to start over. There’s another cutscene once you’ve ‘defeated’ Eranikus with Tyrande and Remulos, and then congratulations! The Green Shard is yours.

Red Shard Chain:

This one is actually very straightforward. All you need to do is talk to Vaelestrasz in BWL before you engage him, then defeat Nefarian within five hours (remember, this was a lot harder a few years ago!). However, there are some bits for the Blue Shard chain that require a BWL run, so I recommend doing this once you’ve made some headway on that fork to avoid having to go to BWL more than you need to. It’s important that before the Nefarian fight you set the loot to Free for All (this is why it’s important to go with trusted friends!) as the shard is a white quality item and cannot be master-looted. Otherwise, one untimely D/C or a person leaving the group could mean you’d have to start all over again.

Blue Shard Chain:

This chain is far and away the most involved as it has its own three subforks. Start off by heading to Azshara to talk to Azuregos (or his spirit) which patrols around the eastern part of the zone. He’ll engage you in a snarky and condescending conversation about how he’s hidden the shard on a ‘minnow’ and you’ll never find it MWA HA HA, then send you off to talk to a gnome named Narain Soothfancy in Tanaris if you want to summon the ‘minnow.’ Narain tells you he’ll need three things to be able to help you out: his Scrying Goggles, a 500 Pound Chicken, and a copy of Draconic for Dummies. He then you three quests to start the sub-chains to get these things.

The Chicken:

The chicken fork is basically independent of the other two, so it’s easiest to start out with that one. To do this part, head to Gadgetzan to talk to Dirge Quikcleave, who will send you to the Isle of Dread to kill Chimaeroks for their tenderloins. If you’re not sure how to get to where they are, there’s an opening in the hills on the southeastern coast (in other words, you’re not going to the northern part where the Feathermoon Stronghold quests send you). The Chimaeroks are easily soloable, as is the ‘boss’ in the north who drops the actual chicken carcass. My only caveats are to be aware of the spell reflect on the Arcane ones since you could easily one-shot yourself if you’re busy talking on the phone or watching TV and not really paying attention while farming and then end up taking a looong walk back to your corpse. ;)

Also, the chimaeroks have a long-ass respawn time (about 15 minutes) and the drop rate for the tenderloins is not that great. Realistically, it’ll probably take you about an hour to get the drops you need simply because of down time. Once you have that, Dirge asks for the ingredients for the Kickin’ Chimaerok Chops, and will prepare the chicken for you (plus you get an epic-quality cooking recipe!). Deeprock Salt is a common drop, but the Goblin Rocket Fuel might be a little expensive and/or rare on the AH. If you have any friends who specialize in Goblin Engineering, now’s the time to talk to them as the reagents themselves aren’t too obscure.

The Goggles:

This bit is fairly straightforward; Narain will tell you talk to a gnome NPC hiding in a crate near the gate to the Greymane wall in Silverpine, who will say he left the goggles in Molten Core (oops!). The goggles can drop off of any mob in MC; I got mine fairly quickly. However, it’s best to make sure you do this step before you start collecting Draconic for Dummies pages since one of the chapters drops from Ragnaros. MC can be done by 2 or 3 80s these days, but I’d set aside time to do it if that’s all you can muster. The more, the better, obviously.

Draconic for Dummies:

Narain will tell you he left his copy of the book on a sooper sekrut island to the south of Tanaris. This island is out past the dark waters that cause fatigue, so you can’t get there the normal way. To get there, you’ll need to swim to the very southernmost tip of Tanaris, and look for a female naga named Meridith, who’s in love with Narain. She’ll ask you to deliver a note to him, so head back to Narain, deliver it, then go back to Meridith. She’ll give you a buff that gives you increased swim speed, so you can reach the island with the book. Note: the ‘island’ is actually two landmasses; the mound of dirt is on the southernmost one. Unfortunately when you dig it up, OH NOES, someone’s stolen the book! Break the bad news to Narain, who will then send you to Winterspring to follow up on the ransom note. When you do, Doctor Weavil will appear, and he will summon a giant gorilla you’ll need to fight. The gorilla is easily soloable. Go back to Narain and tell him what you saw.

Narain will commence wailing and gnashing of teeth, and then send you all over God’s green Azeroth to put together another copy. Here’s where you can find the eight chapters:

  • One is a drop from the succubi and felguard elites (but not felhounds) in the south of Winterspring. This was kind of annoying as there are a zillion felhounds and I rode around the area a lot waiting for the other mobs to respawn and it took a little while to drop for me, but otherwise easy.
  • One drops from the demon elites in Blasted Lands.
  • One drops from Doctor Weavil on Alcaz Island in Dustwallow Marsh. Weavil is not soloable due to a mind control mechanic, but two can take him down easily.
  • One is sitting on a table in the outer ring of Undercity in the Magic Quarter. This could be tricky for classes who cannot stealth – I snuck in through the sewers, fell down, and stealthed my way to the item.
  • One is in the Library in the castle in Stormwind. Again, could be quite difficult for non-stealthy Horde as the Library isn’t too far from Varian and you have a lot of guards to get by.
  • (In other words, it might be wise to bring friends to distract the NPC guards in the city of the opposing faction, and hope you’re there at a non-busy time. If you can stealth, it’s a relatively easy thing to solo.)
  • One drops from Onyxia. Doesn’t matter if it’s 10 or 25, but it’s important to wait until all the other stuff has been looted first; the item will spawn then and you can loot it. 100% drop.
  • One can be found sitting on a table in BWL on the ramp in the room after the Broodlord. See, this is why I told you to wait on the Red Shard chain, so you can kill two birds with one stone.
  • One drops from Ragnaros (again, make sure you started the Goggles chain!). This drop should be 100% but according to both personal experience and WoWhead comments is a bit buggy. It didn’t drop for me, but I ticketed it and a GM delivered the chapter to me via the mail in less than 48 hours.

Once you have all eight, bind them together using the Magical Book Binding Narain gave you, grab your ores, gems, and bars, and head back to Narain. He’ll make the Arcanite Buoy, and then you can head north to summon Maws in Aszhara, the ‘minnow’ Azuregos told you about (if you fail to defeat Maws, Narain will make you another without you needing to get more items, don’t worry – that said, for me, Maws remained spawned and I was able to re-aggro him). Maws hits pretty hard towards the end; I probably could have soloed him but I don’t think I timed my Innervates and mana pot well as I went OOM, and without being able to keep my heals up, I went down pretty quickly. Very easily 2-mannable, and bingo! The Blue Shard is yours!

Head back to Anachronos, and turn in your shards. He’ll give you the Scepter of the Shifting Sands, and tell you to go to the gates of AQ where Jonathan the Revelator is waiting to give you an epic weapon of your choice and the chain finishes not with a bang, not with a whimper, but silence. You can’t physically bang the gong anymore, and there are no server-wide announcements to bring you any glory along the way. But that’s not what this is about – it’s about enjoying the vestiges of the original version of this incredibly rich game while you can, before they’re completely obliterated. Absolutely worth it.

Good luck, and happy questing!