WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

Is it okay to torture prisoners at Guantanamo Bay?

Is it okay to torture an emotionless animated character in The Torture Game?

Is it okay to carry out a World of Warcraft quest that requires the player to torture a prisoner?

boingboing reports on the controversy generated by one Richard Bartle, himself the inventor of the MUD genre. It seems that Bartle recently came across a mission in WoW’s Wrath of the Lich King expansion that gave him pause:

Basically, you have to take some kind of cow poke and zap a prisoner until he talks.

I’m not at all happy with this. I was expecting for there to be some way to tell the guy who gave you the quest that no, actually I don’t want to torture a prisoner, but there didn’t seem to be any way to do that. Worse, the quest is part of a chain you need to complete to gain access to the Nexus, which is the first instance you encounter (if you start on the west of the continent, as I did). So, either you play along and zap the guy, or you don’t get to go to the Nexus.

I did zap him, pretty well in disbelief — I thought that surely the quest-giver would step in and stop it at some point? It didn’t happen, though. Unless there’s some kind of awful consequence further down the line, it would seem that Blizzard’s designers are OK with breaking the Geneva convention.

GP: Kotaku reports that the quest at issue is The Art of Persuasion. The in-game instructions for the quest are as follows:

It is fortunate you’re here, <race>.

You see, the Kirin Tor code of conduct frowns upon our taking certain ‘extreme’ measures – even in desperate times such as these. You, however, as an outsider, are not bound by such restrictions and could take any steps necessary in the retrieval of information.

Do what you must. We need to know where Lady Evanor is being held at once! I’ll just busy myself organizing these shelves here. Oh, and here, perhaps you’ll find this old thing [torture device] useful….

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  1. Celestine says:

    There is a [Make Love Not Warcraft] achievement, where you /hug a dead horde (if your alliance) or a dead alliance (if your horde) before they release.

  2. Geoff says:

    Satire or not, within the context of the game the torture quest makes sense.  You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to do it, but it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that torture exists in a world based on the Middle Ages where a war is going on.


    Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cook-book! Little Red Cook-book!

  3. Mortium says:

    KoTOR had a Light Side/Dark Side system that made your actions have consequences. WOW, doesn’t have that. It could with the Faction system, and something like this COULD be solid Political Commentary if done right. However, as I have stated previously, Blizzard FAILED miserably with that on this quest.

    Oh, and as to "just the right amount of drug" that’s a truth serum thing, and a lot more ethical and reliable (assuming the drug works as advertised) than torture. No lasting harm to the prisoner, and you get true and acurate information out of him in a hurry.

  4. Geoff says:

    So he did.  And I have already stated previously that, from a design point of view, he’s got a point.  However even in his rebuttals he seems to have a problem that there’s torture at all in the game, going so far as it use the tired argument "hey, it’d be ok if there was child sex ’cause it’s just pixels, right?"  He still displays complete ignorance to the fact that, as a fantasy game, WoW is based on the Middle Ages and that within that context is actually makes sense to have torture.  Or the fact that the game is about a war going on and atrocities occur on both sides of a battle.  He also has this strange perception that the Alliance are the "good guys", meanwhile WoW has much more moral ambiguity than at first glance.

    So yeah, while he makes it more clear in his response that it was more of a complaint about the design of the game, he’s still screaming about moral high ground in this instance.


    Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cook-book! Little Red Cook-book!

  5. Mortium says:

    The D.H.E.T.A. quest line is so over the top, it IS satirical (yet also very close to what some of those wack jobs at PETA believe, but that’s a rant for another day). This was much more subdued.

    And you’d be amazed how many "low information voters" out there firmly believe that torture is effective because of shit like "24".

    If Blizz intended for the Quest to be satire, they failed miserably.

  6. Praetorian says:

    I can’t believe this is really a concern now.

    Seriously, the "torture" bit has been in games a lot longer than just now.

    In Knights of the Old Republic, you actually had to drug a guy the right amount to get him to talk, and later in that game you could choose not to tell the big evil bad guy your plans and watch him zap the crap out of one of your companions, (which by that point in the game, I was happy to see it…annoying little turd).

    This is only a big deal now because of the entire waterboarding incident.

    It’s a game, man it up and move on.



    "I’ve been told I’m the resident skeptic, but I wouldn’t believe that."

  7. Geoff says:

    Then that makes his argument even weaker, since you can avoid the quest and move on to Nexus anyway.

    I’ll give him props for bringing up a critical argument over how MMOs are structured, a rather lack of of the roleplaying aspect.  But he makes it sound like the player is forced to torture, when in fact he is not.

    I stopped playing WoW around the Burning Crusade, so I personally didn’t know you could skip the quest.


    Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cook-book! Little Red Cook-book!

  8. DarkSaber says:

    That’s no fun.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  9. Artifex says:

     You’re right! Torture is bad. Blizzard should just change it so it’s another quest where we all go out and kill 10-20 of some unrelated creature to get a random nonsensical item drop to turn in. Mindless killing > Torture, clearly.

    Seriously, if you’re bothered by torture, after playing a game that basically requires you to commit endless acts of genocide across THREE different continents (and a whole different PLANET if you have Burning Crusade), you might want to take a longer, harder look at what you do every time you log in and play.

  10. DarkSaber says:

    Because the chance for getting your name into the press was probably negligable back then…..or is that too cynical?


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  11. jccalhoun says:

    I really wish people would read both of the articles before commenting on them.  In his second post that boingboing links to he gives his rebuttal to several of these comments. 

    It is ok to disagree with him but at least read what he wrote before just writing something he’s already adressed.


  12. HarmlessBunny says:

    Bah that guy is lying. I got access to the Nexus without doing that quest. Though I did hear about that quest. Just that quest may give you an easier time going to the Nexus… however I guess the ignorant and the accusers don’t ever consider looking for the other path.

  13. Flamespeak says:

    I wonder why no one cried like this back when you had to beat a prisoner into confession in the original Bionic Commando for the NES.

    It consisted of little more than hitting him with your arm a few times to get him to spill the beans about some secret routes, but it was definitely a tourture mini-game.

  14. zel says:

    Nah, you’re missing the point, its dumb to get all offended over it. So torture isn’t good IRL, who cares? this is a game, and in the game (just as in many movies) some bad guy has info, they torture him a bit, get the info then go on to do whatever. No one is saying torture IRL is the way to go, we’re just saying getting your panties in a wad over it is dumb.

    BTW it is most likely satirical in nature, just the like D.H.E.T.A. line is making fun of PETA.


    I am a signature virus, please copy and paste me into your signature to help me propagate.

  15. the1jeffy says:

    Also, there is an NPC vendor that sells the "needler" in the tower above this prisoner.  You can buy one at any time and shock the prisoner, just for "fun."

    Now only if the needler worked on bg afkers . . . .

    ~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

  16. DarkSaber says:

    Riiiight. So you think all novels that show torture should be re-written because we are too stupid to see that ‘Torture is bad mm’kay’.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  17. the1jeffy says:

    It’s fiction.  You either can’t see this, or think others are too ignorant to do so.

    ~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

  18. Mortium says:


    WOW. Just WOW. Everyone here seems to have missed the point.
    My girlfriend and I ran into this quest line over the weekend as we’ve been taking our sweet time getting through Wrath (RL issues, playing DKs, etc). We were both a little disturbed by this quest. We were unsure if the quest author was trying to make a political point, or just some huge Jack Bower fanboy.
    It should be noted that torture is NEVER an effective way of getting true and accurate information out of anyone. If you torture someone long enough (assuming you don’t kill them in the process), they will tell you whatever they THINK you want to hear, just to get the pain to stop. Even if what they say is a lie. Just look at some of the records from the Inquisition and the European Witch Hunts.
    Blizzard should probably consider altering that quest line…. a LOT. Hell, this is a game with Magic, why not truth serums and spells?

    While I am the first to say violent video games to NOT make people violent, everything we read, hear, watch, and experience shapes how we look at the world. And if we perpetuate the myth that torture is an effective interrogation tactic, even in fiction, we will never grow as a society.

  19. DarkSaber says:



    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  20. vellocet says:

    I don’t know… I kinda see this as political satire about the whole waterboarding US government thing…

  21. mors_d says:

    This looks like political commentary when looking at the quest text provided by GP. I suspect they want you to be offended that you have to act as the willing /deniable proxy for a state that cannot "officially" sanction the use of torture to gain military intelligenge. If you’re not offended by having to torure someone, then I suspect Blizzard might want you to think (while not questing, grinding, etc…) about why it didn’t bother you.

  22. Charax says:

    It was a comment tacked on to the end, it’s either a jok, a little swipe at Blizzard or firmly tongue in cheek. there’s really no reason to take it so literally.

  23. vaminion says:

    "His biggest complaint appears to be that there’s not alternative method to completing the quest and that if you want to get to Nexus, you have to complete it."

     But the thing is, you can get to the Nexus without doing this quest.  I’ve never done it, and I run the Nexus all the time.


     -P, who -really- thinks you should research whether a quest is required before you complain about it.

  24. DarkSaber says:

    He’s the one that brought up the Geneva Convention, which was a BAN on the use of torture.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  25. Geoff says:

    His biggest complaint appears to be that there’s not alternative method to completing the quest and that if you want to get to Nexus, you have to complete it.  Well if he wants more choices, he needs to play a different RPG plain and simple.  WoW’s design, and most other MMOs for that matter, is centered more around grinding/fetching/combat than "pure" role-playing.  If he’s been playing the game long enough to have a character be involved in WotLK,  you’d think he’d understand this by now.  It’s a legit criticism, from a design point of view though.  If you’re going to call in a roleplaying game, perhaps the player should have more control over how to solve the challenges presented in the game.

    Problem is he takes that legit criticism and runs off the deep end with it by bringing in the Geneva Convention, as if that should hold some sort of relevancy to a video game.  I can’t believe I have to type this in a game’s defence, but here it goes; The Geneva Convention does not have a single damn thing to do with a virtual character created out of a bunch of code.  Unless you wish to legally characterize video game characters as a "person" (shudders at the thought of that) it does not apply. 

    He’s also ignoring the context of the game itself.  WoW, like most fantasy games, is based off of the European Middle Ages, roughly the 500’s to the 1400’s.  Despite all the whimsical chivalry crap that exists in the fictional stories of the time, the Middle Ages was a very dark period as anyone that paid attention in high school world history class can tell you.  Violence and torture were the norm back then.  If disease or starvation didn’t kill you, there were plenty of bandits, armies, religious figures, and lords with a mean disposition who would be more than happy to finish what nature failed to do.  So within the context of the time period which WoW is based on, it would actually seem strange if they didn’t include a little torture.  Compound this with the fact that WoW has freakin’ monsters and demons runnings around and you end up with a world that’s rather violent and dark despite the cartoony graphics.

    The man could have had a legit argument had he just said something like "I wasn’t too thrilled that I had to torture someone to progress.  I would have liked to see more choices available to me to complete it."  But instead he jumps into the looney bin by trying to apply a real world document to a virtual world.  And honestly, he kind of belittles the message the Geneva Convention tries to convey by making these sort of comparisons.


    Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cook-book! Little Red Cook-book!

  26. zel says:

    I agree with you, hardly controversy, but apparently this guy started the controversy so of course people will ridicule him 😛 Mainly cause we’re bored at work and not at home playing WoW.


    I am a signature virus, please copy and paste me into your signature to help me propagate.

  27. gamegod25 says:

    So let me get this straight, killing billions of wildlife and people thats no problem. But zapping someone with a cattle prod a few times thats offensive? Are you kidding me?

    The geneva convention doesnt cover virtual characters so quit being such a wussy.

  28. Zerodash says:

    Then don’t do the quest.  I am morally opposed to the fanaticism of PETA, and hence didn’t do the DEHTA quests in Borean Tundra.  I didn’t get my panties in a bunch like a little wuss over it.

    Some people need to just man-up and not let things like a WOW questline upset them…

  29. Charax says:

    Fair enough.

    My point stands though – he’s not calling for a ban, or even for anything to be changed, he’s just saying he’d hoped that part had a non-torture resolution, what’s bad about that? I hardly think this qualifies as a controversy.

  30. zel says:

    by this point you would have a mount because the 30g or so gold to buy one would be insignificant, but even without a mount you could crawl there if you felt like it, it would just take like 15 or 20 minutes as opposed to the 30-45 seconds on a flight path or 2 or 3 minutes on an epic mount.


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  31. zel says:

    the nexus is a dungeon instance, 5man. And you actually do not HAVE to do this quest to get in to it, doing this quest just allows you to be sent there via a flight point so you don’t have to ride there on your mount.


    I am a signature virus, please copy and paste me into your signature to help me propagate.

  32. nighstalker160 says:

    Wow, I was totally unaware that the Geneva Convention applied to Azeroth.

    Does it apply only to the Alliance or did the Horde sign on too?

    Exactly which factions are a part of the convention?

    Someone I don’t see Sylvannas signing on to that.

    I give the guy 2 points for creativity though, I never would have thought of mentioning the Genevan Convention.

    Blizzard should be really happy with this though. Apparently WoW is now so huge that it’s considered a legitimate country in its own right.

    Wonder who the U.N. rep will be?

  33. Charax says:

    Oh come on…

    He’s not saying ZOMG TORTURE! BAN GAME!, the guy’s just saying that he’d hoped there was a way to resolve the quest without torture – given that RPGs tend to veer on the side of choice rather than linearity it’s not an unreasonable hope to have, especially for a quest that is a prerequisite for something (Never played WoW, but I assume this "Nexus" is something to be desired and/or striven for, correct?)

    Calm down, fellow gamers. Nothing to see here.

  34. ZippyDSMlee says:

    PC nazis rule wanting fair rights for fictional charatcer….. and here I thought the "right" was where the thought police would come from….
    Pirates,Shearers,Lenders and downloaders are not a market that can be taped by the mainstream.
    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=

  35. Xeldsd says:

    Maybe it’s a magic torture device that forces people to tell the truth. And even if they did use a truth serum to get the information, he could just not say anything. You would still need a way to make the guy say something. And what better way to do that than with a magical truth-forcing torture stick.

  36. thefremen says:

     That’s just it though, You can always decline a quest or delete it after recieving it. Walking/Riding to a location isn’t going to kill you in game any more than it would in real life either.


    Heck, the fresh air will do your avatar good!

  37. Praetorian says:

    Ok. Kind of a cheap shot at McCain, he did spend his time as a P.O.W, so I understand why he’d have an issue with torture.



    "I’ve been told I’m the resident skeptic, but I wouldn’t believe that."

  38. jccalhoun says:

    It would be a political statement because shows like 24 have told us that torture is effective even though it isn’t.  It would be accurate to have the character give wrong info though. 

    And if it was a political statement, is that wrong?


  39. Artificial Selection says:

    And that’s a bad thing? To question authorities, propose moral-dilemas and satire revolving current issues as politics and war in form of entertainment have been popular since long before even Jonathan Swift.

    Books, movies, music are already using this satire to entertain and engage us, why would political satire revolving the highly controversial torture of US war prisoners be spared?

  40. Praetorian says:

    True on both counts.

    Though you may argue that you have a choice not to do that quest and not move on, it is still a choice.

    The truth serum thing, really, if you wanted to nit-pick, you might say jabbing someone with a needle against their wishes is torture. If you brought the rules of todays society, don’t forget the mental anguish that’s involved into jabbing someone with a sharp pointy object over and over against their will.

    Ethics is really a moot point to me when it comes down to story lines and games.

    Like I said before, it’s just a game; not like it was real torture.  



    "I’ve been told I’m the resident skeptic, but I wouldn’t believe that."

  41. DarkSaber says:

    Here here!


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  42. jccalhoun says:

    I’ve never played WoW and the only Blizzard game I have played is Warcraft 3 so I don’t know much about the game. 

    I would, however, point out that including torture in the game (like 24 and any number of other works) as a successful means of getting info presents torture as an effective way of gathering information which is something that is highly debatable.


  43. DarkSaber says:

    A very enjoyable bitch-slap to an idiot who should have thought before he blogged.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  44. zel says:

    Of course we’re talking about a guy who has built his life around multi-user dungeons, thats his whole claim to fame, so of course he’s gonna play whatever the popular MMO is and nit-pick about stupid crap on his journal(i hate the world blog so you’ll have to excuse me if i refrain from using that word in context). I played MUD back in 1996, really was not that great but it was a first of it’s time. Meh, i just think he should be ignored personally. I read his post on the comments from the original article and I suppose its hard for him not to come across as a stuck-up egotistical retard when he’s trying to defend himself but after reading his response the guy has ‘loser’ oozing from the post.

    Fact is if he’s gonna post something like that, he should expect this kind of response, we’re talking about the net here… 😛


    I am a signature virus, please copy and paste me into your signature to help me propagate.

  45. monkeysan says:

    "And honestly, from a lore/story aspect, when you think about the entire goal of going to Northrend, to take on the Litch king/arthas, you realize your character is so bent on achiving this goal, they are willing to become the very thing they are trying to kill. Just like a certain prince we all know and love/hate."

    Couldn’t agree more. As much as I love Bartle, I think he really missed both the moral question and the design issues here.

    Check out our editorial on the controversy at GameCulture here.


  46. Elvyra says:

    I sincerely think that he’s crossed the line from reality into fantasy and maybe needs to take a little break.  WoW is a story.  I think that his comparisons of this quest to that of pedophelia are a clear indication of his inability to see the difference between reality and fantasy.



  47. Awol says:

    BTW this isn’t the only torture quest in WoW. I remember a few quests where I had to beat up on a person until they talked. How is this any different instead of taking them to 10 hitpoints of their life you poke him with a cattle prod. Frankly if this upsets you enough to rant and rave maybe you should stop playing WoW period.

  48. DarkSaber says:

    Putting the emphasis on always doesn’t change the fact you said ‘almost’ meaning there is no reason this case in WoW couldn;t have been one of the few times it was good information, which it is.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  49. Mr. Stodern says:

    Yeah, me too. That was a great episode. They should make another where they play Wrath of the Lich King.

  50. Mr. Stodern says:

    I would visualize him trying to figure the game out, but I’m afraid I just may actually die from laughing so hard.

  51. AttorneyAtLawl says:

    I love how he complains about torturing one person from one group of people…

    When in the same zone, there are quests to work for a PETA like group to slaughter hunters for killing animals.

    Or, to accept jobs for the hunters to kill the members of the PETA like group.

    Or any of the numerous other quests that require you to murder living people, including humans. For that matter, even the STARTING ZONE for orcs and trolls requires you to kill humans.

    I just don’t understand why he’s all upset over one torture quest, where half the game leading up to this is about killing people.

  52. Mortium says:

    No, it does NOT. As I have already stated, this is a game with a HIGH level of Magic. And Alchemy. And a little steampunk engineering/science thrown in. There is no reason that Magic/Science could not have been used to get the information.

    And torture in the Middle Ages almost ALWAYS gave you BAD information.

  53. Mr. Stodern says:

    This guy’s just being ridiculous. Seriously. And I have a feeling he wouldn’t be doing so if torture hadn’t become such a hot-button issue as of late.

    If you don’t like something, just don’t play it. There’s a lot of things in particular games I don’t like, but do I seek/get attention from some journalists or something about such complaints? Nope.

  54. AttorneyAtLawl says:

    "Not an effective way"? Have you even played the game? The info the character gives after being tortured is 100% accurate.

  55. saregos says:

    This quest isn’t in any way required or even recommended in order to get to the nexus.  The only difference is that without it you have to be bright enough to walk the 50 yards to the flight path without an NPC holding your hand on your way over there.

    — Sometimes the truth is arrived at by adding all the little lies together and deducting them from the totality of what is known

  56. Monte says:

     Seeing as torture is not an effective way of getting true information, i think the quest should be re-written so that torturing the guy sends to a completely wrong destination… when you arrive, you find a gnome in a big round poked-dotted hat that tells you "i’m sorry adventurer, but our princess is in another castle"… all just to mess with people…

  57. saregos says:

    Dead on, and Blizz did a press release to that effect.

    This quest was *designed* to raise eyebrows, and somewhat qualifies as a social experiment.  Think something along the lines of the Milgram experiment (being ordered to give electric shocks by a figure of authority), but without the moral dilemma to the experimenter presented by that experiment.  And personally, I give blizz props for adding a moral dilemma to a game that’s usually very black-and-white.

    — Sometimes the truth is arrived at by adding all the little lies together and deducting them from the totality of what is known

  58. RenK says:

    Complaining about a quest where you poke a guy with a cattle prod among tons of quests full of killing countless harmless animals(got to love Hemet Nesingwary quests =P) and mobs just sitting there minding thier own buisness, is just stupid. Also, last time i checked, there is an option to not take a quest at all when offered. use it.

    And honestly, from a lore/story aspect, when you think about the entire goal of going to Northrend, to take on the Litch king/arthas, you realize your character is so bent on achiving this goal, they are willing to become the very thing they are trying to kill. Just like a certain prince we all know and love/hate.

  59. saregos says:

    Actually, you can get the flight path without this quest.  And it’s not possible to get to the nexus without either the path or being level 77 for the flight training (at which point running Nexus is a singular waste of time).  Sorry, but you’re wrong.

    — Sometimes the truth is arrived at by adding all the little lies together and deducting them from the totality of what is known

  60. zel says:

    I read the bit on the photo essay some guy did on kids playing games, I think its funny they had an 11 year old playing GTA IV hehehe 😛


    I am a signature virus, please copy and paste me into your signature to help me propagate.

  61. saregos says:

    Actually, so sorry, you’ve been mislead by your previous conversation.  You don’t need to do this quest in order to get to the nexus.  It isn’t even part of a chain that leads to objectives in the nexus.  And the *only* way to get to the nexus is through the flight point, but this quest has nothing to do with access to the flight point.

    That said, Blizz actually did a press release stating that this quest is, basically, a test.  It’s not essential to anything, doesn’t have all that great of a reward, and so it’s an interesting moral question:  Even if it’s "just a game", are you willing to suspend your morality because the game asks you to?

    Sadly, the answer is usually yes.  But I went out of my way to skip this quest, and have lost nothing because of it, so I can state conclusively that it is completely irrelevant to further progress in the game, or in the area.

    — Sometimes the truth is arrived at by adding all the little lies together and deducting them from the totality of what is known

  62. Moriarty70 says:

    Let’s see, someone who has no problem with massive ratios of "People I kill":"How often I die", but gets all bent out of shape over tourture. I didn’t know John McCain played WOW.

  63. zel says:

    Every time I see someone get the [The Cake Is Not A Lie!] achievement in WoW I wanna listen to ‘still alive’ 😛


    I am a signature virus, please copy and paste me into your signature to help me propagate.

  64. zel says:

    Nobody here is trivialising real life torture, we’re trivializing torture in a game where you kill shit on a daily basis for the hell of it with no reprecussions. Where there is war all over the place and the majority of the populace in-game is constantly fighting and dying (and ressurecting) over and over and ppl flip out over a some dumb quest thats not even REQUIRED to get into an instance and which the rewards for the quest aren’t even really worth it.

    Apparently you did not euthanize the companion cube.


    I am a signature virus, please copy and paste me into your signature to help me propagate.

  65. aphexbr says:


    Yes, it’s OK in the game, because it’s a game. not real. Nobody is going to be psychologically or physically harmed by this action, just as nobody you kill in the game actually dies. It’s fiction. I wish people would stop trivialising real-life atrocities because a piece of fiction happens to mirror it in some way.

    Abu Gharib was an atrocity that was a disgusting abuse of power by a supposed world leader who criticised others for doing the same. WoW, 24, Saw, whatever else torture appears in is fiction. Stop equating the two.

  66. Daria_C says:

    Hes has a choice. When he wants, he can click "Abandon Quest" and type /rude at the quest giver, and walk off. Its not mandatory.

  67. the1jeffy says:

    Katrina Prestor (even though currently not in -game) fits with the UN’s mindset.

    ~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

  68. Elvyra says:

    Thought you guys might get a kick out of this.  Our resident writer, Pig, who does a weekly column at got Bartle to talk about this issue.  You can see it here in the comments section, and he’s none too happy to have the attention.  Guess he should watch what he writes. 

    The fact is that there are more games out there full of blatant drugs and violence and this one little incident in WoW is the one that blew Bartle over the edge?  Come on!  The guy needs to take a chill pill and take a time out.

    Anyway, just my two cents, not that it matters.  Check out that comment though, it’s worth the read.


  69. Soulsmith says:

    so all the people who are saying a truth drug would be better are deluded, truth drugs are not completely harmless and leave the person they’re used on feeling the same way as if they had been tortured (minus the wounds inflicted ofc) as the information was removed from them without their consent, they were helpless to stop the person who gave them the drug from extracting the information, with torture they give the information to stop the pain, with truth drugs they cannot stop themselves

  70. Celestine says:

    Being that I did that quest line over a month ago I’m having trouble remembering, is that quest part of the quest line that ends inside Nexus? I could see if you wanted to finish that quest line how this could be an issue. If not, plenty of people skip over quests all the time, you could just as easily abandon the quest and go on your way.

    My second thing is that you can get summoned to the Nexus via the summoning stone. The gryphon point is only another not even 15 second ride up the hill, so I don’t understand why this is an issue. I completely skipped this questline on accident because I got summoned to the Nexus before I ever got to that area.

  71. Mad_Scientist says:

    Someone else who noticed that about that quest. I had an interesting conversation in my guild after I remarked on how disturbing that quest is in a way.

  72. Tubatic says:

    After reading most of the comments here, and realizing that the quest is not actually mandatory, and that Blizzard, as they have stated, put the quest in there as a test, I’m very intruiged and appreciative of what Blizzard is doing with their game now.

    I’ve gotten a greater emotional response out of the quests in Lich King than i really have out of anything I’ve played in World of Warcraft before.   People have mentioned the D.E.H.T.A. quests, which are increibly fanatic,, pro-animal quests.  I’ve chosen not to follow the line, because I’ve let my character refuse to believe that Nesingwary (The target of this group) has gone power hungry and corrupt.  As a hunter player, I guess I’d come to care about and appreciate Nesingwary, since he’d made an appearance in vannilla WoW and the last Expansion.

    Considering all the tracking that Blizzard is doing (now more transparent than ever), I get a feeling that the content of the quest lines you do and don’t complete will have some bearing on how you’re perceived later in this expansion’s storyline.

    And even then, I still get a personal satisfaction from making a morally informed decision in this game that so easily becomes about loot and stat numbers.


  73. DCOW says:

    let’s just hope this guy never plays a death knight.


    one of the first quests, that you literally have to do or you can’t make your death knight properly is take two weapons called "keleseth’s persuaders" and use them to beat on scarlets until they tell you their secret, even if it involves killing them.

  74. hellfire7885 says:

    Makes me wonder what he’d say in Dragonblight when a Tuskarr asks you to snathc Wolvar pups from their mothers.

    That quest madem e feel like ah uge douche.

  75. Kajex says:

    This isn’t a strong emotional response. This is akin to hating Uma Thurman because she starred in a movie where she assassinated a former-assassin-turned-mother in front of her own kid= i.e., ridiculous whining over something FAKE. 

    This is fiction. You’re supposed to enjoy it, or roll your eyes and move on, not accuse people of breaking some contractual agreement, and even less-so since it’s not even real people (or races, for that matter.)

  76. Bill says:

    I don’t give a shit if he was complaining about it or not, the "Devil’s Advocate" scenario he suggested is what I was responding to.  It’s a method of defending those who complain about portions of the game that cannot be bypassed without torture. 

    Yes they have a point that they can’t play as a bad ass evil motherfucker because the game forces them to be mean and torture somebody.  I simply am pointing out that that’s a stupid fucking thing to bitch about.

      But I assume since you are such a strong advocate of reading, you already read and comprehended that that was the obvious point, and you just wanted me to further explain myself because you are a dick.

  77. Mirrikat says:

    Calm down Bill… if you learn to read he didn’t actually say he was complaining about being a deathknight He was simply stating information.

  78. Bill says:

    To play devil’s advocate, though, there is a torture quest you can’t skip. At least, if you’re playing a Death Knight. In that one, if you push too hard, you actually risk killing the victim before they give you the information you need. That one’s part of a chain that all Death Knights have to finish before they can enter the main game world.


    Then don’t play as a Death Knight.  Why in the world choose a such a dark character, then be a pussy about quests that the motherfuckers would go on? 

  79. Hevach says:

    It’s pretty easy to bypass this quest, true – the rewards for the chain aren’t that great, and you can skip them and still get the quest achievement for Borean Tundra.

    To play devil’s advocate, though, there is a torture quest you can’t skip. At least, if you’re playing a Death Knight. In that one, if you push too hard, you actually risk killing the victim before they give you the information you need. That one’s part of a chain that all Death Knights have to finish before they can enter the main game world.

    For the sake of completeness, WoW’s pretty full of torture and torture like stuff. Plenty of quests going way back to the human and undead lowbie areas involve doing all sorts of horrible things to prisoners – Northrend’s stepped it up a notch. Trying to cure the plague infecting one, you’re told to administer a potion to him that instead liquifies him and makes several of the prison gaurds throw up. In Dragonblight, you watch as a priest tortures an undead prisoner by reciting prayers and casting healing spells on him. Then there’s a few executions, and the wholesale slaughter of the prisoners in the Stormwind prison.

  80. Overcast says:

    Regardless of what the mechanics are – you don’t have to play WoW at all, anymore than you have to Watch a movie. You could, in WoW, just like in a Movie, skip the parts you find objectionable. Actually, it’s more of an option in WoW, than in many movies. I’m sure you could still play the game quite effectively skipping this part.

    Try to watch SAW and skip past the torture parts. Good Luck.

  81. zel says:

    We’ve already established that it actually does NOT affect entry into the Nexus instance.


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  82. DarkSaber says:

    And if you had bothered to read further into the discussion you would see you can still access the area, you’re not locked out for not doing the quest.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  83. Michael Chandra says:

    With a movie you got a choice to watch it or not. If you are not allowed to enter an entire area of the game if you’re not willing to perform torture, that’s not really a fair choice.

  84. DarkSaber says:

    The Geneva Convention doesn’t cover pixellated animated characters in a game.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  85. Spartan says:

    No doubt. WTF does the GC have to do with video game action?


    "The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" – Herodotus

  86. the1jeffy says:

    You do not need to complete this quest to enter the Nexus.  You can get off the boat at the Borean Tundra, ride to the flight master near that quest giver, and fly directly there, never once talking to ANY quest givers.

    Also, the achievement for completing the Borean Tundra, "Nothing Boring About Borean," can be completed without this ‘torture’ quest.

    So, why is this an issue?  It’s fiction, people.

    ~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

  87. lordlundar says:

    Something I always say when I hear the bitching about this quest. This is a war environment and it often requires doing things that you are not proud of. You need info fast and he isn’t talking  simply by asking him. Heck, this is probably the one time in the game where you have to extract the info and the target lives.

  88. zel says:

    you know, you DONT have to accept the quest, you can decline it, thats how you choose not to torture the prisoner. Apparently torture is worse than the slaughter of all kinds of humaniods and wildlife. Like the D.H.E.T.A. quest line where you kill trappers just cause they are killing animals…   lol   hey i got an idea, how about you uninstall WARcraft….


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  89. SinisterInfant says:

    What’s this guy confused about?  If you don’t want to torture the guy then you don’t get the information.  Then the quest is over.  You fail and evil wins.  If you want the info in time to save the Lady you have to poke that guy.  Would he feel ok if you passed on the torturing and later have to fight the undead version of the Lady after she herself had been tortured, killed, and returned as an undead horror. 

    Actually there are several instances of torture in the game.  One where you participate in an exorcism that gets rather brutal seeing as the holy powers of the interregator cause physical pain to the undead wretch your questioning.  Also as a DeathKnight you are charged with running around torturing many random people with hot pokers till someone, instead of dying with honor, tries to live by giving up the information your looking for.  Of course even if he gives it up you kill him anyway.  You are a Death Knight after all.

    There is a choice in all of this.  I don’t know if he’s upset if you have to make the choice at all, or if only one side of the choice has an effect on the story.  If you don’t torture the guy then its all over and you never have to hear about the outcome.  It seems that the current condition is tamer then the reality that this guy wants. 

  90. Brokenscope says:

    So by his logic blizzard supports genocide because there were only rewards for me when i killed all those quillboar.

  91. DeusPayne says:

    So… he finds issue with this, but not the slaughtering of 100s 1,000s or 10,000s of mobs during questing?

  92. DarkSaber says:

    If he wants to bitch about torture in a game, maybe he should be moaning about The Punisher game instead.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  93. Brokenscope says:

    The geneva Convention doesn’t exsist in the world of warcraft.

    This is a medieval times, with magic, and the undead you know.

  94. Truec says:

    This is a medieval times, with magic, and the undead you know.

    And steam power.  And nuclear reactors.  And spaceships full of blue-skinned goat men.

    Yeah, I don’t know where I’m going with this, it’s just my standard response whenever somebody uses the word ‘medieval’ in reference to Warcraft.

  95. Kincyr says:

    The geneva Convention doesn’t exsist in the world of warcraft.

    Quoted for win

    岩「…Where do masochists go when they die?」

  96. zel says:

    I didn’t realize it was an insult to state that your knowledge of WoW is lacking when you yourself admit that you don’t play it 😛  I musta missed the part where he insults you…


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  97. insanejedi says:

    Oh I see what you did there. Did you really have to insult me or him? I don’t play WoW, and that’s why I said "IF".

    If you could abandon the quest and it will have no impact then that’s cool, I just read from the article itself and it seemed like you had no choice but to do it to progress through the game. Not everyone knows every nook and cranny of WoW so why don’t you stop being an asshole and think anyone who doesn’t know this as a dumbass. Not everyone can know everything about one game.  

    Just from a game design convention, I said IF (keyword: IF) it made you do this quest to progress through the game, then that is stupid.

  98. Mr.Tastix says:

    Bah, it’s like violent video games. You have to take them with a grain of salt. I mean, look at one of the first ever Death Knight quests. You have to "free" and then kill one of the Unworthy Initiates, in cold blood. You have no reason to kill him. But you do anyway, if you want to progress through the storyline arc (and subsequently get your gear).

    So basically, you have a choice. Either kill/torture two people in cold blood or play Grand Theft Auto IV and kill everyone in town in cold blood with a taxi. Your choice.

    — Joshua Smellie

  99. Mad_Scientist says:

    In WoW, in Borean Tundra, you encounter a group called "D.E.H.T.A." (Druids for the Ethical and Humane Treatment of Animals.) If you kill any animal in that zone, even a wolf that attacks you, you get a short debuff that causes that group to try and kill you on sight.

    There’s a whole series of quests you can do for them. It’s a pretty funny parody of PETA, and also of certain questlines in WoW. (The Nessingwary hunting related quests.) What I loved was doing quests for them along with other quests that had me killing animals. Nothing like encountering a group of 4 baby mammoths, one caught in a trap. Rescue the trapped mammoth for DEHTA, then kill the 3 others to take their hides for the gnomes.

  100. Father Time says:

    How attached can you possibly be to a virtual character you’ve never met before? I’m assuming you never meet the to-be-tortured person before the quest, correct me if I”m wrong, I don’t play Wow.

    I could see myself having trouble or feeling unease in torturing a character that has a lot of fleshed out backstory or has a really deep character I can get attached to.

    But a random NPC I’ve never met before, then sure why not, kill the thing. The fact that it’s a war and he has valuable information I need to finish the quest is a good enough reason for me to torture pixels.

    I don’t see why he got so qualmed about it. If you’re honestly concerned about the ethics of this then you’re thinking about it too much or you’ve grown way to detached (sp?) from the game.

    So err in conclusion, lighten up and have some golly old fun.

    It’s like what I tell people who think I’m pure evil for laughing at dead baby jokes.

    "No babies were harmed in the making or telling of these jokes. Well ok a few, but they weren’t that important."

    (If I’m in front of other people who like the jokes I’d then go on to explain the number of babies that were experimented on to see just what happens when *insert horrible, nasty thing here* happens to them. For more accurate jokes of course (plus a few extra purely for sadistic kicks)).


    "What for you bury me in the cold cold ground?" – Tasmanian devil

  101. Karsten Aaen says:

    The thing is the game apparently itself mentions a ‘code of conduct’ that cannot be broken by the quest giver. But that the player (race) can break this code of conduct because he (or she) is an outsider. As someone else mentions torturing people do not help much; people will at some point tell you anything just to make the pain stop. Or tell you what they think you want to hear – even if they lie to you. And the information you retrieve is false. And that’s why this quest is just poorly designed, I find.

    Blizzard could of course have designed this quest to make people bad about a certain situation at a certain military base on a certain island – or just designed this quest around a jack bauer type thing. Certain indications, such as the *i’ll just re-arrange these shelves* could be an indication that Blizzard tried to make a political statement well hidden within the game.

    The interesting thing here seems also to be that ordinary people can be trained to torture people; Danish TV did in the 1970’s the Milgram experiment. (the one where people of Authority convinced people to give other people electro-shocks when they didn’t answer correctly) The point being that 90% or so of the ordinary people did what the Authority figure encouraged them to do; they did give the person the electro-shocks. (it was an actor, so don’t worry…)

    Like Bioware’s Mass Effect, Blizzard could be asking this question: "how much is you willing to sacrifice?" — to gain (quicker)access to the Nexus?’ and maybe this question, too: "Are you, the pc/player willing to sacrifice even your own moral standards?"

    And normally in Role Playing Games, there are different ways of solving quests, in this quest the choices could be like killing the quest giver, asking for money or just saying ‘no’.


  102. strathmeyer says:

    He couldn’t bring himself to do what? Click his mouse to advance the story? Does he stop reading when he gets to bad parts of books, turn of the evening news when they report on violence, or walk out of a movie theater doing violent parts? Those would make good news stories, too!

  103. DarkSaber says:

    And as has been already established by more knowledgable people than him or you, you can quite happily ignore the quest, or abandon the quest and it will have no impact one way or the other in your game progression. Abandoning it does not block access to the NExus, and general consensus is that the reward is crappy.

    Blizzard even came right out and said they included it pretty much solely as a social experiment to see who would or wouldn;t follow it through to completion.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  104. insanejedi says:

    I think you guys are being a bit harsh on the guy. He just wanted an alternative to tourturing, and if one of the choice is to not do it and never progress through the game, that’s stupid. I think he might want the TOR MMO bioware’s making where you might be able to make that choice of taking a stand for your values, rather than doing the quests you are given brainlessly without an objection.

  105. Conejo says:

    In D&D Online there’s a quest where you’re hired by one church to SLAUGHTER innocent members of another church.

    i ran it exactly once, found the whole concept distasteful, and never ran it again.  you don’t have to do any of the quests, but there were plenty of people who just never read what you were actually doing and were surprised to find out what they’d been "duped" into doing.

    Here are we — and yonder yawns the universe.

  106. mogbert says:

    Maybe this is exactly the kind of statement they wanted to make. It is easy to ignore or condone what the is being done in Gitmo, pretty much for the same reasons. However, the concept of passing the buck on the torture is pure sophistry. The person asking is still the one having the person tortured, even if he doesn’t hold the cattle prod himself. His honor is still sullied, his code broken. It is as if you pushed a bowling ball out the window onto his head, then claimed that you weren’t responsible, the law of gravity killed him.

    In short, the game is fine, the logic flawed, the conversation it sparked is golden.

  107. DeepThorn says:

    There is a right time and place for everything.  That saying is very true.  Absolutely everything has a time and place, even torture.  Sometimes it is needed, most of the time though it isn’t.  Plus, it isn’t like the US doesn’t torture people anymore, they just don’t torture them in the outline ways you are not allowed to, haha.  Rape and child molestation are the 2 things that have no time or place.  Everything else in the world does.

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  108. zel says:

    No problem, i liked the article though it was very well thought out and written.


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  109. zel says:

    The first expansion was Burning Crusade not Scarlet Crusade 🙂  fix it quick!


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  110. monkeysan says:

    "BTW this isn’t the only torture quest in WoW. I remember a few quests where I had to beat up on a person until they talked."

    Yup. Remember "A New Plague" in Brill, available at Level 6 for Horde? Human experimentation on a prisoner of war for purposes of developing a bioweapons program to unleash WMD’s on the Alliance and Scourge…

    Second, and last, shameless, pimp for our GC editorial.

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