Kirin Tor Offensive and the Uprising of Women

Archmage Modera, Jaina, Nasani, my shaman and Vereesa talk business.

Archmage Modera, Jaina, Narasi, my shaman and Vereesa talk business.

This week, like many other servers, my little RP server participated enough on the Isle of Thunder in order to unlock Stage 2. For anyone who hasn’t really poked at Patch 5.2 content, the newest daily hub features the forces of the Kirin Tor Offensive versus the Sunreaver Onslaught. These two factions are the continuation of the story from Patch 5.1 involving Jaina and the purging of Dalaran, and for the Alliance. What makes it so unique is that it’s one of the few places I’ve seen so far that is a largely woman-dominated part of the story, at least Alliance-side. What got me thinking about all this is the scenario (“Assault on Shaol’mara”) that players have to do that bridges Stage 1′s landfall on the island to securing the tiny outpost in Stage 2. The scenario, especially if you play a woman PC, is entirely driven and acted out by women NPCs – Jaina Proudmoore and Vereesa Windrunner in particular. There are also a couple other notable Kirin Tor Offensive names such as Archmage Modera and Narasi Snowdawn from the Silver Covenant.

It’s the first time that I can remember in-game that the story moving around me wasn’t really due to the actions of men or being plodded forward for their benefit. Even more astounding is that it isn’t really a diplomatic mission but it’s you fighting to push back the trolls in a skirmish. Vereesa is your guide Alliance-side and you and her fight with panache (she even says she likes your style!) and help gain ground so that the Offensive can set up a permanent base of operations on the island. It is a short scenario, to be sure, fighting a couple of bosses and trash but it felt a lot more immersive than some of the other story scenarios I ‘ve done, save for Operation: Shieldwall, but the fact that this particular group is headed up by Jaina and her lady pals is a welcome change from a world where she’s (and other women NPCs) have been shit on for taking the reins. While Garrosh and Varian are still duking it out like saggy diaper babies over Krasarang, Jaina and Vereesa are pushing with the Shado-Pan to unseat Lei Shen’s forces from the Throne of Thunder.

I always thought it was particularly weird that despite Azeroth being mixed gender, that women NPCs haven’t largely been as visible as “fighting” forces outside of Sylvanas. Even as leaders, they still assume more of a “calm” face to opposition. It wasn’t until Mists of Pandaria that it’s been more or less shaken up and not always in ways that I appreciate. Varian has always been presented as a hot-head but it isn’t until Jaina or Tyrande (in the Little Patience scenario) get their own need for anger that it’s suddenly not okay to be an aggressive person. I’m over-simplifying a bit but it seemed a little bit like women were still getting painted with a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” The Kirin Tor Offensive feels like a somewhat better outcome for the Jaina vs. Varian power dynamic than what Patch 5.1 had initially implied with Varian tsk’ing her into a corner because she had dared to go against his plans that she wasn’t even allowed to be a part of.  Jaina’s anger has always felt justified to me, especially as someone who read Tides of War, and I felt sad that most players, particularly Horde-side ones, wouldn’t necessarily grasp that her disgust with the Sunreavers would come from the fact that the ultimate betrayal of Theramore came from someone inside of Dalaran. The fact that the Offensive is also staffed and maintained by high-profile women that haven’t been seen in a while and would have largely been left to rot in Dalaran is a fresh take on the “daily hub with even more reputation grinding” dilemma.

For all of the problems that Mists has had so far with some of the PVE progression, the storytelling feels pretty top notch. I’ve long been a critic of some of Dave’s Kosak’s work in story development (I really hate his NPC!) but if this was his baby, particularly the scenario, then I can’t help but thank him. Women have too long taken a backseat in Blizzard’s stories and it is nice to see them doing something proactive and unguided by the desires of a male leader thus far. I’m really interested to see where the Kirin Tor Offensive goes as we unlock more stages, and I definitely feel more optimistic about then I have about some of the other things in this expansion.

15 Responses

  1. I really need to drag my Ally rogue out to the Island and take a look at some of this. I know Horde-side we have Scout Captain Elsia, who seems to have the same role for Horde players as Vereesa does for Alliance–she’s your companion in the Assault on Zeb’tula. Unfortunately Horde side is mostly dudes, Lor’themar, Rommath, Aethas…and the crew. But Elsia stands out.

    I also got to do A Little Patience recently since they expanded it to Horde, and it just seems bizarre to me what they’ve done to Tyrande in general, even beyond the “Hush, Tyrande!” crap from Well of Eternity. If anyone would be good at guerilla warfare in a forest, you’d think it’d be the lady who’s done that kind of thing for thousands of years…

  2. Cautiously love the KTO side so far, but part of me is paranoid that Jaina/Vereesa/Sky Admiral Rogers (another woman in authority with justifiable rage at what happened to Southshore) are being set up to get possessed by the Sha later on down the expansion and will have to be either rescued or killed off by King Chin.

    • Sky Captain is just straight up racist but I suspect it’s still because of the war. But yeah, if anyone of them get turned into the sha, like the whole Suna storyline, I will poop on a hat.

  3. I have to say, as a pure-Horde player this expansion, I absolutely abhor Jaina. The purge of Dalaran is, in fact, the reason all my Alliance alts are on what could be a permanent hiatus. It absolutely boiled my blood.

    It’s interesting because I’ve always strongly disliked Varian too, but never felt him… I don’t know… important enough to stop me moonlighting Alliance-side.

    As Horde I’ve been distinctly meh over yet another powerful female character turned evil, anyway. It’s interesting to hear about it from the blue side. I’m glad Vareesa’s out and about: our Horde-equivalent is really awesome. After being knocked out of the sky in enemy territory, she leads the player to take a nearby troll town, level-headed and kickass throughout. Here’s hoping awesome women NPCs are a rising trend.

    • As a player, you abhor a character for imprisoning the people that stood fully behind the people who conducted the absolute annihilation of the city she built, and every last soul within?

      • I saw no evidence that the Sunreavers were monolithic in their support of Silvermoon’s abduction of the bell. Jaina treats them as though they were, and has the Silver Covenant attack unarmed Sunreaver civilians because they dared to continue living in the city that had been their home for some time, on the grounds that, what? They hadn’t kept to her new vision of Dalaran neutrality? The flattening of Theramore was disgusting, but that doesn’t make aggression against civilians any less vile. Jaina is an incredible hypocrite.

        • At the same time, there’s a reason for what she did that makes sense in context. If you hadn’t played the Alliance quests, you wouldn’t have known this, but prior to the incident, Proudmoore was attempting to bridge the gap with the Sunreavers. Right out of the blue comes clear and undeniable evidence that they, as a group, were operating on behalf of Garrosh (namely, by providing the magic used to steal back the Divine Bell from Darnassus).

          Upon returning to Dalaran, Aethos and company were waiting and prepared to attack. Jaina struck preemptively, then proceeded to have the non-aggressive civilians placed in the Violet Hold — where the aggressors (as in, those who were out and doing violence against those identifying with the Alliance) had their hostility returned in kind.

          Right now, the civilian Sunreavers are safe but jailed, as a matter of security. The people they were aligned with already had no qualms whatsoever with destroying thousands of innocent lives, and no risks could be taken anymore to put Dalaran in the position that Theramore had been.

          Meanwhile, Theramore’s massive populace remains dead down to the last child, Gilneas and Hillsbrad are plagued and lifeless, and the actively malicious campaign of destruction is still waged in Ashenvale.

          But no, no, you’re right, Jaina is SO abhorrent.

  4. “Varian has always been presented as a hot-head but it isn’t until Jaina or Tyrande (in the Little Patience scenario) get their own need for anger that it’s suddenly not okay to be an aggressive person.”

    Every single instance that Varian acted like a hot-head it was presented in-universe as a moment of weakness of his part. Every single one. I’m not kidding.

    To the point the game puts the blame on a spirit wolf doing this to him.

    Also don’t you think it’s a bit silly to say that most female faction leaders are a “face of reason” when there’s 3 (Sylvanas, in which youeexcluded, Jaina and Tyrande – In which you just described her current modus operanti of BEING AGRESSIVE)?

    This leaves us with Jaina who has always being portrayed as a pacifist.

    • Yeah but who gets the blame when women act emotionally in general, not just angry? They do.
      I also said they present a “calm” (those are scare quotes) face of opposition, not a face of reason, meaning that they are often chosen as mediators, rather than pushing military offensives.

      I excluded Sylvanas as I included her in the sentence directly before it as contrast to my point about women not usually being allowed to be agressive, Sylvanas is the obvious exception.

  5. ehn, I’d be happier with this if it hadn’t come out of the total screwing-up of everything that jaina’s character IS–or was until christie golden decided to be edgy.

    and i have trouble considering vereesa anything remotely like feminist character; she exists because richard a. knaak decided his author self insert needed to get jiggy wit’ a windrunner woman. she was a cardboard standee and babymomma until the book where knaak decided that portraying her as a ragingly intolerant hypocritical ‘dry-drunk’ was tewtally ossum (‘dry-drunk’ isn’t an insult it’s a pattern of behaviour from someone who’s on the wagon but hasn’t done the mental exercises, and since blizz is sooooooo hot to trot on this arcane magic is drugs lolol thing…yeah she reminds me too much of friends of mine getting all highty-tighty before a bad relapse and it’s un-funny in the extreme to see this kinda thing portrayed as smart or good for people tl;dr knaak sux and no oen should ever ever let him handle matters about substance abuse because wolfheart was sickatating too)…

    it’s nice to see women in front and centre roles but it makes me so angerpony o’buttmad that it has to come after so much crap and contrived bad storytelling? i mean. like. they drew a parellel between jaina and G A R I T H O S okay that’s not the least bit all right. and kalec is irresponsible as ballz, jaina will be babbysitting him all the time :/

  6. I found Jaina’s rampage in Dalaran a bit of a shock, really. While I can understand her feelings of betrayal, the wanton slaughter was too much for me. Prison the turncoats for sure, but kill anyone else who was against being evicted from their homes? I’m so disappointed.

    It seems now that Jaina has become just another leader ‘looking for revenge’. Aren’t there enough of those already? Rather than joining in the endless war between the Horde and Alliance, I would prefer there to be someone left in command who is trying to end it, and not in a genocidal manner. As things stand right now, all I can say is ‘a plague on both your houses’.

    Bring back Thrall, as soon as possible.

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