The evolution of WoW NPCs – a retrospective

The humble NPC has been with us a while now in the World of Warcraft world, from Captain Placeholder onward. Initially purely static characters, over the years Blizzard have experimented with a number of techniques to liven their characters up, including ongoing storylines for minor NPCs that evolved with the expansion.

WoW Insider’s Know Your Lore, a column I usually find a little bit too obscure for me, has a great piece up today talking about the “evolution of NPCs”, and in particular, highlighting some of the most notable examples of growing and changing NPCs from WoW Vanilla and TBC

“The saga of Cro Threadstrong Cro Threadstrong has to be one of my favorite NPCs of all time. He’s the leatherworking vendor in Shattrath City, tucked away in his own little stall down in Lower City. But Cro had an issue that players were immediately alerted to after spending any small amount of time in Shattrath. See, Cro had his wonderful stall, but a cart filled with fruit blocked the stall from passersby. Cro, being a reasonable Orc, attempted to solve this issue as any reasonable Orc would: by yelling about it. Repeatedly.

Cro’s cries could be heard all over Shattrath. “Does this fruit vendor not value his life? YOU ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME, FRUIT VENDOR!!” Players wondered who the heck was yelling and what on earth the problem with the fruit vendor was. Exploring Shattrath soon revealed the location of Cro and his nemesis the Fruit Vendor — a polite, somewhat absent-minded little old lady named, appropriately enough, Granny Smith. Granny didn’t quite know what that Orc was yelling about, nor did she always hear his bellows.”

This is less an examination of the role of NPC in the game, and more a retrospective on some of the great minor storylines in the game. Nonetheless, it’s an excellent read, particularly for people like me who saw much of this stuff in passing, but never got the whole story. Did you know the guy shouting about the fruit vendor in Shatt had an entire storyline that evolved over the TBC patches? Nor did I.

Apparently the series will be continued next week, with Wrath and into Cata. I’ll be interested to see what they highlight – I can’t think of anywhere as lively or memorable as Shatt’s Lower City in the later expansions, but I may be missing something…

Am I being a philistine? Were there great cameo NPCs in WoTLK and Cata too? And do you think that the column missed anything from TBC or Vanilla?

Quote taken directly from Anne Stickney’s column on WoW Insider” .

Find “Know Your Lore” at http://wow.joystiq.com/category/know-your-lore/ .


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