So having taken some time to look over some of the various suggestions I’ve gotten in regards to what people have found interesting or memorable in and about the old Barrens, and in a way the responses I got were both more and less than I’d hoped for. On one hand, most of the things which people did find memorable seem to have stuck with most people – on the other, many responses has also made the Barrens sound something like the most boring place on Azeroth where very little of interest ever happens. Still, in an effort to put all of this together, I went loose on some old maps, the old mapviewer and Paint Shop Pro in order to try to put it all together.
The most obvious point of interest is Crossroads, the central hub of trade, travel and just about anything Barrens-related, situated along the Gold Road. It apparently hosts most of the more memorable people, including the famous Mankrik, along with smaller notables such as a Forsaken Apothecary, a tough and capable female Orcish
warriorshaman who champions gender equality, a Troll researching the Silithid and apparently a butcher that has a thing for the innkeeper. Oh and it gets attacked a lot.
For other settlements there’s the neutral Ratchet, which seems notable mainly for being Neutral and having Goblins, though they also fight pirates, contain a single high- or blood- elf that appears aligned with the Horde and – if I recall – helped facilitate some degree of trade between the Horde and the Alliance at some point. There’s also Taurajo which seems to largely be remembered for being That Hunting Camp that Burned in the Cataclysm, and also for housing a Quillboar captive – beyond that it’s a good place to run into Tauren. There’s Bael Modan which is a surprisingly fortified dwarven settlement that upsets Tauren by doing archaeology – it also explodes in Cataclysm. Northwatch is a Kul Tiras remnant fortress that – I believe – used to be marked as friendly to the Alliance in spite of implications that it probably shouldn’t be – I seem to recall a reference to the Alliance essentially taking it from them to use as a staging ground in Cataclysm.
There’s also a few scattered farms and watchtowers throughout north to central Barrens, including one farm north of Dreadmist Peak which is apparently burnt down already; central Barrens also seem to have a few various small camps that look like mixed Orc and Tauren architecture, including at least one that’s been razed near Taurajo. I can find two mines, one which seem to be held by the Horde, the other in the north surrounded by Horde architecture but was actually held by Venture Co if I’m not mistaken; speaking of Venture, they also have an oil-drilling operation by the Sludge Fen. At least three peaks seem to be inhabited – Dreadmist Peak being home to Sarilus Foulborne while the peak north of Wailing Caverns had a Tauren camping that was involved in some quest relating to Wailing Caverns, while the one east of Crossroads seem to hold an Orc hut.
There’s generally Centaur settlements near any oasis – including the one by the Wailing Caverns, and Quillboar seem intent on camping near mountains, particularly the ones where large brambles have sprouted. Most of Dreadmist Peak, on the other hand, seem to be held by Burning Blade cultists. There’s also what I think is a large Raptor population in an indent within the mountain range not far from Northwatch. Harpies seem to be camping the only non-oasis forest in the Barrens, to the Northwest. Wreckages suggest caravans and logging operations there have been under assault.
Oh and there’s this odd camp out on an island that looks like a (former?) prison camp where warriors used to go for training in order to obtain Berserker Stance. And a group of couriers that seem to handle messages between Ashenvale and Theramore.
Over in Dustwallow Marsh, Brackenwall Village is an Ogre camp which is Horde-aligned I think? – I can’t recall seeing anyone mentioning it. Neither Mudsprocket nor the Grimtotem camp seem to be in place yet. Tabetha has her cabin off in the middle of the swamp, Swamp-eye Jarl is going mad over in his own cabin (which used to have a semi-hidden quest about a report on Theramore made by an Orc Spy, I believe), there’s two watchtowers aligned with Theramore (one populated by high elves or half-elves?) and a third which is run-down and held by the Theramore deserters. There is a mine present in Dustwallow Marsh, north of Brackenwall, but if I recall correctly, it’s inhabited entirely by large spiders whose eyes are coveted by Swamp-eye Jarl.
Of course, Orgrimmar and Theramore still exist, but they’re more their own zones than anything, so I’ve not included them here; neither is quite as dependant on memorable NPCs or the like to garner a visit as most other places might be.
Unambigously Evil antagonist factions at work seem to include the Centaur, Venture Co, the Burning Blade (serving the Legion), the Qullboar (seem to eventually align with the Scourge), Harpies, Pirates and Silithid. Alliance-related factions openly antagonistic to the Horde seem to be the Kul Tiras remnant and possibly the Theramore Deserters (I seem to recall they weren’t really in a state to really be all that openly antagonistic, mind).Horde-related factions openly antagonistic to the Alliance seem to be mainly Grimtotems from Stonetalon and Mulgore (They don’t seem to have a Dustwallow camp this early on) and Warsong Orcs in Ashenvale, plus a few spies keeping tabs on Theramore. The only truly neutral faction I can find seem to be the Goblins out of Ratchet.
Of course, this isn’t every single detail people told me of, nor every single thing I’m actually aware of, but it should be the rough gist of it. It doesn’t mean that every single thing will find space in the actual Story Arc either; since I’m largely trying to avoid spoiling what my actual plans are, this is more about story potential than actual story, so far.