Why “Smiling Jim” brings a tear to my eye

I seem to be drawn to the sadder quests in-game. Just as I can guarantee finding a matinee movie to cry to (regardless of when I turn the tv on), I have a knack for finding quests involving murdered families and broken hearts. One of these quest chains that every single one of my Alliance characters has to do whilst levelling is the “Shady Rest” chain.

We first learn of James Hyal from breadcrumb quests in the Eastern Kingdoms. Friends and family are understandably worried about him.

My brother James went with Lady Proudmoore across the sea. Last I heard, the fighting had settled down over there, and James was setting up an inn somewhere on the continent. Wherever he is, I’m sure he’s doing good business. Damn fine cook he was.

I haven’t heard from him for a while now–too busy with his inn, I’d wager–but the clerk in Theramore could probably point you to him. Look for him on the top floor of that keep near the middle of the city. What’s it called… Foothold Citadel, that’s it.

On arrival in Theramore we learn that James isn’t doing the “good business” his brother was hoping for. In fact, quite the opposite. He sits outside the Theramore Inn singing to himself, his mind broken by the terrible events at the Shady Rest Inn.

From speaking to the Captain of the Guard, we learn that when the Inn was burnt down, Mr Hyal’s wife and son died but that the people responsible have yet to be caught. Now we can’t have that, so off into the Marsh we go on a hunt for clues.

After a fair bit of fighting, a spot of arson and some amazing Nancy Drew like detective skills, the mystery is solved.

The Captain of the Guard asks one final task of you, laying a wreath on the Hyal family grave.  Naturally, the dead don’t rest peacefully in these parts and their ghosts pop up for a quick conversion.

How are you meant to tell a murdered wife and son that their husband and father is now a broken shadow of the man he once was. That having brought his family to a new frontier and having failed to protect them, he spends his days singing to himself. No wonder she couldn’t find a way to talk to Jim.

However what makes this chain extra sad in my eyes is the fact that nothing changes. James is still insane and his wife and son are still dead. They aren’t together and neither can “Smiling Jim” derive comfort from the fact that you found those responsible, simply because he can’t understand (although technically no one tries to tell him). Compare that to Darrowshire, another epic and tragic quest chain. Little Pamela eventually gets both her dolly and her daddy back thanks to Chromie’s meddling in the time line. Sure, they are both still dead but at least given the circumstances it’s a happier ending.

I hope that come Cataclysm Jim will find a reason to smile again.

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10 Responses

  1. Ah yes, that story always made me sad. There are a few that get me.

    There is one in IC, it is a chain where you try to save a member of the AD who is sick and dying. That one always makes me just a little bit sad :(

    There are others but I think that is the one which sticks with me the most.

    • It’s the fact that you do all this running about (in both the Shady rest chain and the Icecrown one) and yet you still can’t save them. That’s what I find so sad, it’s like watching Titanic and hoping the 3rd time around the ship won’t sink (a girl can dream right). You know it’s going to end badly but you’re drawn to it regardless.

      We need more Chromie altering time lines and saving people.

      • Haha, indeed we do. Ah so I’m not the only one to watch Titanic numerous times always hoping for the best.. hehe.

  2. The one in Icecrown – that’s the one that’s dedicated to a brother of someone who worked for Blizzard, isn’t it? Kind of makes it even more sad, because it’s based on someone who did actually pass away. You do all these things to try to save them.. only for it to be futile in the end..

    It’s all too sad :(
    Less sad quests please!

    • I suppose it wouldn’t be a “realistic” world if art didn’t mirror life. I still want everything to have a happy ending though.

      There are a couple of monuments in-game to people who died whilst they were making it. There is one in Hillsbrad by the sea and one in the Barrens that I can think of.

    • Oh wow that makes me sad to know.. I need to look into that.

      • Also the little girl in SW keep, and her actual hunter character in Shattrah.

  3. I’d prefer a happy ending too.

    There’s a whole bunch of them. There’s also the Tauren quest in the second town you come to where you find Farmer Wheathoof’s dog – voiced by a boy who eventually succumbed to cancer. He got to go to Blizzard for a day and designed the tauren and the quest himself. Also the phoenix bow (http://www.wowhead.com/item=31986) was his design. The tauren NPC with his voice can’t be killed by either faction and as alliance you can still talk to him and hear the voice :(

    After he passed away they also added Elder Ezra Wheathoof to the elders we visit during the festival.

    I get so sad every time I read these things, I really must stop!

    • Must admit, I’m beginning to think that reading the quest text is the way to disaster.

      The next post I do on quests will look at happy ones to balance this lot out.

  4. [...] Jim quest chain – I’ve talked about this one before but it touches my heart in a way I didn’t expect a game like WoW to be capable of. I [...]

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