Recently I've been leveling an Alliance character so I can join in on Real ID Twitter fun times, a female human hunter! Surprisingly, I haven't leveled a hunter since Rades, so it's been quite interesting seeing how they fare in the leveling process, and when they get certain abilities (Disengage at level 14?!).
Why a human? Well, I can't stand night elves or worgen, and I've made far too many dwarves and draenei - I seriously NEVER want to do their starter zones ever again. So that left only humans. I wasn't a fan of the male human animations, but the female attack animations really impressed me - they look very powerful and balanced when shooting. They look ridiculous when jumping, but oh well, you can't win 'em all.
Anyway, I'm now in Outlands, just arrived at Honor Hold. I've done the quests here once before, on my dwarf death knight, but that was ages ago and all I remember about this place is my undying hatred of Fei Fei, that stupid dog, and following it all around Honor Hold waiting for it to dig up some silly quest item.
I was about to take off and do some questing that DIDN'T INVOLVE DOGS when I noticed some Honor Hold Defender NPCs strolling by, on their way out the front gate. This wouldn't be noteworthy except for the fact that I noticed they were both OLD. And not like, middle-aged old, we're talking retired grandparent-looking-old.
I did a bit of a double-take, and followed these two guards as they marched out, presumably on patrol. I found it pretty funny that the Alliance chose geriatric seniors for not only their guards, but their guards on patrol! Yet another thing to make fun of the Alliance about!
Old guards! How funny, right? I certainly thought so. But then, I stopped to think about it. Amusing bit of NPC appearance randomness, sure...but was it actually random coincidence? Or was it actually intentional?
I went around and checked out the other guards stationed around the Hold, and sure enough, they ALL had old-looking faces! In addition to the "old male human" and "old female dwarf" pictured above, Honor Hold also has "old female human" and "old male dwarf" guards.
It wasn't just the Defenders, either. The Honor Hold Archers stationed on the keep's walls were also old and wrinkly-faced!
(Okay, that male archer looks like he wants to cry.)
While the idea of Honor Hold being guarded entirely by senior citizens is kind of amusing, I realized that it might actually be a really nice lore touch by Blizzard designers. After all, one of the main themes/storylines about Honor Hold is how they have been stranded here on Draenor for years, cut off and isolated from Azeroth, alone on a hostile alien world. Some of the NPCs even talk about how they were born here and have never seen Azeroth's soil (yeah, I don't know how this fits into the "Burning Crusade lasted one year" timeline, but let's put that aside).
Why are the guards and soldiers all old? Well, if you consider the lore and the idea that they've been here fighting for years, it makes perfect sense that they're old! These weren't some retirees that Danath Trollbane recruited to bolster his ranks - these were the young, brave soldiers of the Alliance that went through the Dark Portal all those years ago to fight the Horde, and they've been stuck here fighting ever since.
And they're still fighting, despite their age, because of one simple fact - they have no one here to relieve them. They can't lay down their weapons, they can't retire to a life of comfort and luxury. There are no reinforcements coming. They're all alone.
But they still fight. They haven't quit yet. After all, they are the Sons of Lothar.
It's pretty moving stuff.
Honor Hold is already a sad, poignant place, with some heart-wrenching storylines about war, loss and weariness...but I have to admit, I never expected something as subtle as this. The aged guards are a quiet detail, easy to overlook, but I really think they add a lot to the keep's atmosphere once you are aware of them. They provide an understated element of authenticity to the place, making you really think "Wow, yeah, these guys really HAVE been here for ages. Damn."
Bravo, Blizzard. A very nice touch.