Light & Leafy

The Guilt of Killing Festergut and Rotface

Posted on: January 14, 2010

I’ve always been soft-hearted. Maybe it’s a result of the daily dose of cute kittens and puppies I find in my inbox every morning.  I mean, my favorite quests of ALL TIME in the game are Oh noes the tadpoles! and Help Those Who Cannot Help Themselves.” Freeing innocent baby creatures from certain doom? Yes please! I’m not so soft-hearted, however, to feel guilty about killing their captors.

It’s an interesting moral crisis I find myself encountering every so often in game. I have no qualms about killing an aggressive beastie who charges at me, but I’ll spend hours farming the bull rhinos in Borean Tundra for meat without even TOYING with the idea of killing the baby ones. Did I ever regret killing Kel’Thuzad on numerous occasions? Heck no! But every time I enter Gluth’s room, I feel my heart sinking a little more knowing I have to euthanize a creature that had no say in its creation.

Ulduar and Trial of the Crusader made me forget about my moral ambivalence. In Ulduar, I rationalized that anything I broke could be put back together. XT -02 Deconstructor was my favorite fight because of his adorable quotes and somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that as soon as we had freed Mimiron he would go out to the courtyard and put XT back together again. Clearly, I have an active imagination. And everything in ToC, except the champions, was so dastardly that I didn’t feel too upset ransacking the corpses.

Now we’re raiding Ice Crown Citadel. Here is the pinnacle of Warcraft immersion. Everything we have faced has led to this moment.  And now, more than ever, my conscience has started to rear its head.

Most of the instance, I feel like I’m saving the world (or, at least healing my comrades while they save the world). Lord Marrowgar and Lady Deathwhisper are just evil. I know that even though we might have sunk the horde’s battleship, in the end they’re ok. We didn’t kill them, just thwarted them a little bit. And while Saurfang’s story is tragic, we are not killing the hero of the Orcs, merely his reanimated body that has been thoroughly corrupted by the Lich King.

It’s the Plague Wing where my confidence, my security of toppling the evil festering in the Lich King’s castle, comes into question. I haven’t killed Putricide yet, but I KNOW that I’m not going to regret it when I do. He’s a happily employed agent of the Lich King, and he’s fully aware of the destruction he’s helping create.

Killing Festergut and Rotface is where my heart starts to feel a little heavier. Are they nasty, challenging little buggers to fight? You bet your sweet honeymint tea they are! But that’s just it: as exhausting and terrifying as they can be, they’re also little buggers. They have the mentality of a child. They don’t seem to actually care if they kill you or not; they simply are doing what Daddy told them to do. They want to make their maniacal, vile father proud, not having the wherewithal to realize they’re simply experiments to him. And as a raid group, we’re chillingly cruel to these young abominations. We kill their puppies, for goodness’ sake! (Which in and of itself makes me a little sad).

I won’t lie, I was ecstatic the first time we killed Festergut. Our team savored and shared that victory just like all the others before it. But after the celebrating, I realized that I wasn’t completely satisfied with my kill. I realized that a part of me truly was sad at killing a rather innocent creation (even if he was intended to be used for malicious purposes, I don’t believe that either abomination would kill unless following a direct order from their creator). And I know it was inevitable.  I’m not a roleplayer (though sometimes I’ve toyed with the idea); I recognize I need to kill Festergut and Rotface before I can kill the Professor, before I can finish the instance. Even from a lore point of view, Festergut and Rotface probably would have to be exterminated after Putricide’s demise; they love Putricide so dearly that they would probably fly into a catastrophic rage if he were hurt.

Honestly, all of this leads back to the dedication and talent of the Blizzard teams.  It’s one thing to create an encounter that people are excited to beat; it’s another thing entirely when you create an encounter that actually make people experience a bittersweet victory.

So, thank you Blizzard designers for making me feel.

And to Rotface and Festergut: I’m secretly rooting for you. You’ll always get a /hug from me.

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