I've been thinking about that "Budd is driven mad by vengeful Troll spirits" concept from WotLK. And then I thought of a plan for one sweet revenge.
I see Zul'Aman as a phasable zone with two regimes: the instanced story/questing mode, and the after-questing warzone/daily mode. After completing the storyline the "instanced" zone is no longer available, but the warzone becomes accessible from land, so that you can simply walk into Zul'Aman.
The story takes place after the evens of both Zul'Aman dungeons. With their capital in ruins, the Amani Trolls and their Zandalari supporters fall back to the mainland of Zul'Aman proper, where they are caught up in another clan war, as many clans become disillusioned with the prospect of Zandalari victory and stop cooperation with the pro-Zandalari clergy. The Amani are divided into three main groups: the pro-Zandalari central and northern regions, getting reinforcements from Tor'Watha keep, the new dungeon; the chaotic warrior tribes of the western region, Horde's sphere of interests; and the Cult of Zul'jin from the eastern region. The zone is contested, with the Horde coming directly from the west and the Alliance leading an invasion from the sea and building fortifications and a cool port on the coastline. Horde members have... varied interests in the Trolls of Zul'Aman, more about that later, and the Alliance seeks to create a foothold to launch full-scale invasion on Quel'Thalas and the Forsaken. The Blood Elves are especially wary of the situation, apparently ignorant of the Horde's war and horrified at the mere possibilty
of someone coming to attack Quel'Thalas again. Also, both faction seek resources, both mundane, like wood and gold, and mystic, like Amani enchantments, magical and alchemical designs.
Both Horde and Alliance have two factions of their own with interests in the region: the main and the supportive.
The main Alliance faction is Northern Offensive, headed by Highlord Leoric Von Zeldig
and Vereesa Windrunner
and with some darker agents like Valeera Sanguinar
and the SI:7 agents
. Von Zeldig concentrates his effort on seeking mineral sources, claiming mines and establishing a safe "corridor" for the Alliance forces to march west. Vereesa, on the other hand, is pretty zealous on her new position, trying to kill as much Trolls as she can. Von Zeldig warns her to not let her vengeful attitude interfere with the faster pace of their mission; and after yet another Troll village gets butchered by the Elves and a Troll tribe chooses Alliance as its main target, instead of the previous interfighting with Zandalari-aligned Trolls, the Highlord calls Vereesa out and threatens to relieve her out of duty if she continues unauthorized attacks. Vereesa yields, but instead turns to the more silent art of killing, courtesy of Valeera Sanguinar, with subtle operations like sabotage and poisoning of the water. Nevertheless, despite all odds, the Northern Offensive manages to gradually construct series of working Dwarven mines in the south-eastern Zul'Aman AND some stone castle fortifications, forcing the Trolls further to the north, where the supportive Alliance force is settled.
The supportive Alliance force is the "Nedreck Company
", now expanded into a real mercenary army. These sellswords add numbers to the Offensive, to lessen the need for new recruits or taking soldiers from other fronts. Being mercenaries, they think much less of the "rules of war" and are prone to marauding and raiding Troll towns for valuables. Their overseer from the Alliance is Field Marshal Snowfall
, who is tasked to control the mercenaries and to prevent any excessive acts or the company finding Horde a "better payer". To Marshal's surprise, however, Nedreck himself is pretty... angry with the Horde and seeks to force them out of Zul'Aman at all costs. He also has an anti-looting policy and is set on Von Zeldig's goal to open the Alliance a southern road to the Sacrificial Fields, a central part of zone, void of all Forest Trolls, who try to stay away from this sacred land. The strangest thing happens when Nedreck, wearing his Troll Mask, goes to communicate with the Zul'jin Cultists and, shockingly, convinces them to go further north, leaving their main temple to be decorated for the Alliance's base (think of something like Sith Massassi Temple being used by the Rebel Alliance in Star Wars). Nevertheless, the mercenary commander is very interested in acquiring Troll artifacts, especially those related to sacrificial rituals of the Loa, but Marshal Snowfall lets Budd keep these, if only as thanks for the successful mission.
Horde's main force are the Bloodslayers (name taken from a rank of Darkspear Elite, but can be relevant to both races composing the army), headed by Primal Torntusk
and Halduron Brightwing
. After becoming brothers-in-arms during the last Amani conflict and overcoming the usual Elven-Trollish racial hatred, Halduron and Vol'jin are on friendly terms and hardly have any conflicts, although Halduron is much more focused on Horde's military goals in this zone, with the Alliance being his primarly objective. Vol'jin, on the other hand, has much grander plans, with him becoming "the new Zul'jin" and uniting all Trolls around the Darkspear Tribe with the help of the Horde. Primal Torntusk and her Revantusk Forest Trolls are brought to Zul'Aman to act as Horde's guides and loremasters, although Torntusk herself is bitter about the whole campaign and would prefer to leave the Amani alone, still sad about the fact that Zul'jin did not return to the Revantusk as promised. This force fights in the southern forests, building some lumber mills, and also persuades or even forces other Troll tribes to join the Horde's cause. Instead of constructing a new keep, like the Alliance, the Horde uses the city of one of the friendly tribes as its main settlement (something like those pyramids in the Hinterlands).
The supportive Horde force really jeopardizes Vol'jin's mission at first. It consists of Blood Elves and the Forsaken headed by Lord Sanguinar
and Lady Sylvanas Windrunner
herself. As one can guess, that is the "we hate Trolls" department, based in reconquered ruins of an old Elven keep. After some conflicts between Vol'jin and Sylvanas, Halduron, being the official leader of the Horde's offensive, orders Sylvanas's regiments to move north, hoping to use the more zealous part of the Blood Elves to strengthen the Zandalari front. Enraged by some mere general ordering her, the big bad Dark Lady, around, but succumbing to the Horde's military order, Sylvanas grudgingly agrees (think of something like Grand Marshal Garithos ordering Prince Kael'thas around, no racism intended). Eventually Lord Sanguinar tries to break through Tor'Watha front and stage a surprise attack at the Alliance from the north-east, but it turns out that the Alliance has been planning a parallel attack themselves. Sanguinar's army clashes with a mercenary squad led by Valeera, but in the middle of the big battle the two divisions fall before the attack of Tor'Watha Tribe from the flanks.
In all these chaotic campaigns a number of events of interest happen:
-Both pro-Zandalari and Vol'jin are trying to summon the greater Loa for help, with surprising lack of success. Apparently the great Loa support neither and are not willing to turn the tide of war for one Troll or another.
-The Cult of Zul'jin and its musings on the reincaranation of a Zul-Jin, which they describe as a legendary Troll hero, who unites both witchcraft and berseker aspects of a Troll and is meant to unite all Troll in times of need. They see our old friend Zul'jin as the latest reincarnation but are unsure on the next one. Some see that incarnation in Vol'jin, others in the prophet Zul of Zandalar, and some are clearly set on the idea of ressurecting Zul'jin in a necromantic ritual. They sense a Loa curse of epic proportions placed on Nedreck's head and try to stay away from such great magiks, although they are unsure of the nature of this curse.
-Nedreck's old team being concerned about their leader's mental health, with him suffering a perconality crisis, often being found weeping about "HIM laughing at me, sucking my soul out, killing me" at one time, and dancing like a witchdoctor at other times. They stick to him no matter what, though.
-Captured Forest Trolls being used for labour in the mines nad lumber mills. Von Zeldig mearly sees it as pragmatic use of resources, while Vol'jin introduces it as some sort of a penal colony, a correctional facility for those unwilling to fight for the Horde. Primal Torntusk is shocked by this and one of her sidequests involve using player in undercover giving freedom to some Troll workers, and giving a warrior's death to some imprisoned, maddened Dire Trolls. The Alliance equivalent is Vereesa ordering the covert assassination of Troll workers.
-The Amani civil war and the factions' "help" to ignite it. They eventually succeed, but with the Trolls fighting each other all over the centre of Zul'Aman's northern part, there is little way for either faction to march onto the enemy, except by using the Sacrificial Fields, which are for some reason inexplicably hated by Forest Trolls, despite even the lack of any sacrifices at the fields! Oh, they talk about some legend of a fiery god eating the land itself, but that's just some ridiculous old tale, eh?
-The "siblings on both sides" motif, with Sanguinar meeting Valeera and Sylvanas's confrontation with Vereesa.
-Tor'Watha, the new dungeon and the citadel of power of the new Zandalari Empire. Hosts Amani and Zandalari Troll bosses, with the new Amani high priest trying to free the mysterious creature Ula'Tek from the dark below...
-More Troll lore, as seen on the tablets of lorekeepers in Amani temples. Musings on continued wars against the Elves, the presentation of a newest version of Troll pantheon, more on Trolls' relations with Goblins, the most ancient Troll legends, their relations with the Old Gods, the Trollish "worldview" etc.
The final story event would center on both Alliance and Horde armies finally marching through the sacrificial grounds. Neither army is really eager to attack first, in fear of an arising tactial disadvantage in case the other side claims and sets an array of cannons on the giant majestic amphitheatre, with a clear overlook of the whole fields from their northernmost side. Vereesa's squad with the "Alliance player" and dual axe-wielding Budd manages to clear the amphitheatre first, only to be attacked by the wyvern-riding "Horde player" party of Vol'jin, Sylvanas and Primal Torntusk (ala Battle for Undercity). The fight starts, with both Vol'jin and Vereesa ordering their armies to press the attack through the airborn messengers. Primal Torntusk is shocked by the order and quickly leaves the fight, intent on keeping her tribe out of this - but it looks like the Forest Trolls aren't eager to fight on the sacred ground anyway... And yet, the main Horde and Alliance forces clash together, in a battle of Pelennor-level proportions, steam tanks and meat wagons firing, kodos clashing with knights, magic explosions everywhere!
Enraged by the apparent "betrayal" of the Revantusks, Vol'jin clashes with Vereesa and the player is tasked with supporting their faction in such a fateful fight, with no one noticing Budd, strangely decorated in Troll holy symbols and armed with the artifacts he gained back during Snowfall's campaign, igniting the main altar and performing a strange dance with some horrible cries in Zandali. No one pays him any interest in the middle of the fight, until Nedreck finally stops and, with a diabolic laugh, jumps from the amphitheatre to his death, but not just his, apparently...
As a human's laugh slowly transforms into that of a deranged monster, a great earthquake shakes the ground under everyone's legs. The player falls down, unconscious, as the vision darkens... And when the player rises again, they can only see, thanks to gratious phasing, why these barren fields are called sacrificial - where were once the armies of Alliance and Horde now lies the giant chasm, filled with lava, as one can still hear the screams and smell of corpses burning. The fight stops as the generals look at their dead armies in pure shock. Finally, something arises from the fiery pit of death. It is a giant, genie-like Troll spirit, looking at the group with empty eyes and a mad grin. An evil laugh shakens the scene as the greater Loa finally appear above the Gehenna of the Sacrificial Fields. The Loa speak of great amusement that the mortals brought to them in their ignorance, and congratulate the spirit that masterfully orchestrated all of it. Enjoying the scene of the mortals' defeat, the Troll gods gladly accept the wonderful sacrifice, and declare the triumphant spirit the new Loa of Vengeance... Zul'jin!