Friday, February 18, 2011
Of the 13 million World of Warcraft players in the world, many of them have never heard of Karazhan Crypts. It’s not surprising really, considering that the zone known by that name has never been open to players except by hacking or glitching certain aspects of gameplay. The area was never finished, it seems, or maybe it was placed in the game with the intention of being used in a later expansion. Whatever the reason for its creation and current condition, it’s one of the most terrifying places in Azeroth.
In Deadwind Pass, just east of Darkshire’s graveyard, lies the Ivory Spire of Karazhan, once home to the evil wizard Medivh. Deadwind Pass was created by an explosion of unknown origins. The blast tore into the magical fabric of the world and laid bare a nexus of every magical ley line in Azeroth. These ley lines created a point of intense magical power and weakened the foundation of reality in the area. Karazhan was built on the exact point where the lines crossed, though it was never revealed by whom. Decades after Medivh’s murder at the hands of his apprentice he returned from the dead with his old accomplices to occupy his old home. Legend says that beneath Karazhan lay a dungeon that mirrored the Ivory Tower; a perfect inverse duplicate of the citadel. However, no such dungeon has ever been found. Instead there is a massive location beneath Morgan’s Plot that I would guess is a combination prison, torture chamber and burial ground. Below is what I found upon entering the Crypt.
Just past the gates in the mausoleum of Morgan’s Plot is where you will find the entrance to the crypts. There is a gate that prevents players from entering though you can manipulate the game and force your way in. In Burning Crusade it was possible to die near the gate and explore the underground city while in ghost form. That was quickly patched however, long before Lich King was announced. Still, there were ways in, you could duel a friend near the gate and could easily be feared or blinded through the gates. This was also fixed during BC and is no longer possible. Entering Karazhan is still achievable, most easily by rogues and druids though there are other methods for every class as of the writing of this article. (Remember that I do not endorse purposely glitching any aspect of World of Warcraft as it is against the Terms of Service and can get you banned.)
And now for the description of the crypt.
The first area you will encounter, just past the gates, is known as the Well of the Forgotten. Just in front of the gate you can see a small, nameless tomb, the only object of interest in this area other than the hole in the floor to the south. This hole, or well, is a long dark tunnel that bodies were thrown into at some point. The floor of this room is covered in long scratches in sets of 3 and 4, which leads me to believe that those thrown into the well were at least partially alive while falling to their deaths.
The Pauper's Walk is the labyrinth of tunnels that connects the different rooms that make up the crypt. The walk is littered with dismembered body parts, charred remains, mummified humanoids and the bones of animals and humans alike. Some of the remnants have turned a sickly green, others yellow and some black. A few of the body parts even look fresh, as though they were ripped from a recently dead corpse. I'm not sure why it's called the Pauper's Walk; I can't imagine anyone willingly working in this hellish place, no matter how impovrished.
The general Crypt area consists of a series of large, open rooms of cobblestone and dirt mounds. The largest room is a collection of sepulchers with large closed gates on both sides of them. The gates open easily enough to reveal simply that they are all empty of anything, save dirt. A few of the tombs are even overflowing with muck to point that the doors should be unable to open, but they still swing quite easily.
Farther beneath the graveyard you will find The Tome of the Unrepentant. It is not clear why it is called this, there are no shelves, books or parchment to be found in the vicinity. Instead there are double sets of gates, perhaps a defensive system to keep something in, or out, of the rest of the zone. However, there are large holes in the floor with easy access to the level below, where a large room is mostly occupied by a still pool of water.
Near this pool is The Pit of Criminals. Is it clear now what happened to the bodies tossed into the Well of the Forgotten; they were killed by the long the fall from above, or thrown dead into the pit. The well must have been used frequently as an enormous pile of skeletons has accumulated at the bottom of the chute and has spilled over into a large portion of the room. A few feet from this monument of death is a stair case that leads to two empty rooms above. There doesn’t seem to be a purpose to either the rooms or the stairway.
Next you will find a large body of water that must be crossed to reach the final room. The ceiling in this place has been lowered until there is barely enough room to keep one’s head above the water, though there is ample room to swim, and it is easy to avoid the massive chains leading down into the murky lake. Upon dipping beneath the surface I found what is easily the creepiest place in any part of Azeroth or the Outlands. Tied by wrists and necks to the chains are upside-down, floating corpses. All of the bodies show signs of being beaten and tortured before being completely bound and tied underwater, with no chance of reaching the surface ever again. Some claim that the eyes of the dead men will occasionally open if you watch hem long enough, but I have never stayed underwater long enough to see if this is true or not. The name of this zone is The Upside-down Sinners.
Lastly, you can find a place beyond the sinners, called the Slough of Dispair. It is a large room, with a sloping, uneven dirt floor that is littered with bones. The center of the room is a large depression in the dirt with no obvious reason for existence. Maybe it was meant to be a mass grave of some kind, or maybe it was used as a holding area; there aren’t enough clues to tell. The most interesting part of this place is the name. The word slough means a few different things; it can mean an area of soft, muddy ground; swamp or swamplike region, a reedy pool, pond, inlet, backwater, or it can mean a hole full of mire, as in a road. The least used meaning for this word though is “a condition of degradation, despair, or helplessness.” This brings to light the fact that the word despair is spelled with an I instead of an E, giving it a completely different meaning. The word dispair means to separate (a pair). So now, the name can be read in a completely different way, the implication of the title might actually be “The despair of separation”. Of course, this also has many possibilities for meaning and leaves me wondering what the room was really for.
Here is a video I made from footage taken with the program Fraps while Samine (my rogue) explored Karazhan Crypts. The music alone is scary enough to keep me awake at night, and I also left in the sound effects which you can hear throughout the video.
So the biggest question in my mind is “Why was this put into the game?” And I honestly cannot find an answer anywhere. Blizzard has never released any official information on who created the crypts, or why. There don’t seem to be any future plans to use the area, so why haven’t they removed it? Some say that it wasn’t made accessible because Blizzard wanted to keep WoW’s rating at Teen instead of Mature. However, this is a pretty lame excuse considering that anyone who reviewed Burning Crusade for rating would have been able to see the section whether or not players could easily get to it or not. Other people say that it is going to be implemented as a raid in the future. This is also a loose theory considering that the area has remained untouched (excluding hotfixes to keep players out) since January 2007. Two additional expansions and 4 years later and no word? That seems weird even for Blizzard; the company known for its long, legal explanations of what the word “soon” means in their press releases. Also for consideration is the layout of the crypt. There are many very large open spaces (the crypt stretches all the way underneath the Darkshire graveyard) and few closed off areas, which would make it rather hard for any attempt to place mobs and bosses into the zone. I really don’t think it was ever intended to be an instance or a raid. For the most part though, it does seem ‘finished’. There are no dead end hallways or unpainted sections, the attention to detail is the same or better than the rest of the playable world. There is also no instance portal; the entire zone is part of the outdoor world. However, the doors in the mausoleum area are named strangely, like a file name: “Doodad_WroughtIronDoor08” for example. They still work when you click them, but that is one indicator that it is unfinished for now. The names of two of the areas may also be misspellings. “The Tome of the Unrepentant” would make more sense as “The Tomb of the Unrepentant.” Also, the word Dispair may just be an accident.
There is also allegedly another dungeon directly under Karazhan, since the crypts are technically located beneath Morgan’s Plot graveyard and parts of Duskwood. I’ve heard of a small hidden room beneath Kara where a Blizzard employee hid a large smiley face but that has also been closed off and I believe it is now completely inaccessible. As to an inverse Karazhan, it is possible, but I have no evidence of such a place.
Karazhan Crypts could be in the game for a few different reasons, though none of them make sense to me right now. Plus, the lack of NPCs just makes it creepier in my opinion. If you’d like to explore it for yourself I have a how-to video on that shows rogues and druids (even low levels) how to get in.
Link to how-to video: http://geeknoises.blogspot.com
Remember though, enter at your own risk.
Posted by Sam Monsen at 2/18/2011 10:07:00 AM