A myriad of ways your alts can gear and skip content you’ve already done in Shadowlands
Now that we’re in the final major patch of Shadowlands, there’s a lot of content a fresh level 60 character would need to consume in order to catch up. While a new or returning player would need to complete all the steps laid out through the various campaigns to reach Zereth Mortis, those who have already taken a character through the events are able to take advantage of multiple skips and catchup mechanisms added by the World of Warcraft development team for the benefit of alts.
Some of the skips are inherently account wide and require no extra effort, for example, the ability to mount in the Maw, and flying in the Shadowlands and Zereth Mortis (but not the Maw or the adjacent Korthia). Most of the content skips are optional, so if a player wants to replay any of the content they’re able to.
Skipping through Shadowlands Leveling
The first Shadowlands-related skip is available when an alt hits level 50: when speaking with Whitemane (Alliance) or Nazgrim (Horde) for the quest “A Chilling Summons”, you will have the option to select “I have heard this story before” and go straight to Oribos. There is an oddity with this skip though — even though you can receive the breadcrumb quest at level 48, you can’t take advantage of the skip until level 50. If you’ve already started in the Maw, you can return to Stormwind or Orgrimmar and still have access to the skip, or if you’ve already reunited with Jaina and taken refuge in the nearby cave, she’ll have the skip option available.
Once you arrive in Oribos (whether you’ve skipped the Maw or not), your character is frozen in place by the attendant Fatescribe Roh-Tahl who gives you the quest the Threads of Fate. This quest lets you choose to either replay the storyline as you did on your first character, or you can choose the Threads of Fate mechanic. Choosing Threads of Fate allows you to level in a less-structured way, letting you choose your Covenant right away (you can change your mind at any point) to unlock their abilities and giving you additional options to earning experience on your way to level to 60, including Torghast and Battlegrounds.
If you initially chose to follow the storyline but then change your mind, you can revisit Fatescribe Roh-Tahl at the eastern end of Oribos and select Threads of Fate whenever you want (even at level 60). Unlike the storyline, once you’ve entered the Threads of Fate you can’t renege as the underlying mechanism uses achievements to mark your progress and thus they can’t be rolled back.
Selecting your desired Covenant is the first step of the Threads of Fate. Once you’ve done so you’ll want to acquire a Broker Mark of Distinction from the vendor Au’Dara near the flightmaster in Oribos. Available for 500 gold, it sets your Renown with the current Covenant to 40 (this is being bumped up to 60 in patch 9.2.5) and can be purchased by any character on the account including the alt itself. The reason you want to get this first is because there are numerous quests and bonus objectives in the Shadowlands that reward Renown, and the Broker Mark of Distinction ignores your current Renown when setting it — unless, of course, your Renown is already higher.
Passing on the Covenant Tour
Your next opportunity to press fast forward does not occur until the character reaches level 60. At 60, a quest is automatically acquired that directs the character to their Covenant Sanctum and the start of the Covenant Campaign. After reacquiring the Covenant abilities that have already been in use while leveling, you’ll be given an option to bypass the tour of Sanctum with a prompt “I know my way around the Sanctum” that advances you to your first Soulbind. Note that this skip can not be reversed, so if you want to experience the Night Fae play you should not use this skip.
The Soulbinds are the source of the next catchup mechanism, although it requires another toon to have unlocked the Soulbinds already over the course of that specific Covenant’s Campaign — if so, you’ll be able to immediately complete the quests that give you all three Soulbinds. If not, you’ll have to unlock all of them via the normal method (although if you’re not worried about min-maxing on this alt, you can just choose from one you’ve unlocked).
After you’ve unlocked the Soulbinds, you’ll want to pay another visit to Au’Dara in Oribos to pick up an Incense of Infinity. This item unlocks every Soulbind Conduit available for the class with an item level of 200, so you’ll be able to socket the ones you want to use right away.
Au’Dara is also the source of the Traveler’s Anima Cache, a method of transferring Anima among your toons, so if you wish to start upgrading your Covenant Sanctum on the fresh 60 this is a way to speed up the process.
The Covenant Campaign is optional at this point, although it will need to be completed to advance in Korthia or to unlock any collectibles or transmog that have not yet been unlocked.
Heading straight to Zereth Mortis
With your Covenant established, you’ll be sent to visit Bolvar in Oribos with the quest The Highlord Calls. Speaking to Bolvar while on this quest provides two skip options — the first skip option bypasses the Runecarver and Ve’nari unlocks as well as the Twisting Corridors quest chain (forgoing 1000 Soul Ash), while the second option skips all the way forward to the start of the patch 9.1 Korthia campaign (losing out on 1250 Anima).
If you want to continue skipping forward, you can do so with Korthia as well — the quest “the First Move” is automatically received once the prior skip is done, and talking once again to Bolvar gives you an option to skip ahead to Korthia. This skip is quite extensive, bypassing the Battle of Ardenweald scenario, the unlocking of Korthia, and the removal of the Eye of the Jailer. You can continue on to Korthia at this point, but note the Covenant Campaign needs to be completed before you can progress much further on the 9.1 campaign.
Completing the above skips should trigger the quest Call of the Primus for the character, which directs you to speak to the attendant Tal-Inara (in the same room where Bolvar has been providing all the skips), and Tal-Inara offers a skip in the patch 9.2 campaign as long as your main character has progressed through chapter 3, unlocking Pocopoc. The skip saves you a couple hours of play, but you will miss out on some ilevel 226 and ilevel 233 items — although there are ilevel 226 items for every slot available for 500 Anima each — and the potential of gaining Renown from the quests.
A jump start on your gear
Of course, if you take advantage of all the skips you’ll find yourself in Zereth Mortis with an ilvl roughly 50-100 points lower than what it’s tuned for, meaning almost certain death if you venture too far out among the hostile mobs. Fortunately there is plenty of catchup gear available.
First, there’s the ilevel 226 BOA gear available from Hadja in Haven for 500 Anima, which can be used to fill every slot for a fresh 60. In addition, there are multiple trinket and ring possibilities so even those second slots can be filled, but it’s RNG whether you get the same Unique-Equipped trinket so it may take several attempts to do so.
That said, before spending Anima (or if you don’t have much Anima available to spend), be sure to check out the auction house — a lot of BOEs drop in the new zone, and you can get many ilevel 229 pieces for a low price, depending on your server economy, of course. Also check with Vilo, the Enlightened quartermaster, as they sell one piece of ilevel 233 armor (slot dependent upon your armor type) for a few hundred gold.
Besides the Incense of Infinity, there are two additional Conduit upgrades available for a character that has unlocked Zereth Mortis, both sold by Vilo. The first item is the Font of Ephemeral Power, which upgrades all your Conduits to ilevel 226; it requires a reputation of Friendly with the Enlightened, however, you’ll get that pretty quickly. The second is the Decanter of Untapped Potential which further upgrades the Conduits to ilevel 239, although since it requires a reputation of Revered it may be several weeks before your alt is able to purchase this.
A shortcut to Legendary
One of the hardest steps to complete when gearing up a fresh level 60 is acquisition of a Legendary. Fortunately there are catchups available for those as well, although the biggest roadblock will still be the cost of the base armor item required to craft the Legendary.
Soul Ash and Soul Cinders are still mostly farmed in Torghast, but another character can purchase Packaged Soul Ash and Packaged Soul Cinders from Bonesmith Heirmir in Korthia to transfer excess to your alt. Getting a Rank 7 Legendary will also require 2000 Cosmic Flux, which is acquired in Zereth Mortis and from completing layers 13 through 16 of Torghast, but is currently not something you can move between characters.
A recent item added to the Enlightened quartermaster Vilo is the Bag of Explored Souls which can be purchased at Honored reputation for 3000 Cosmic Flux. This provides 5100 Soul Ash and 1650 Soul Cinders, the exact quantity needed to craft a Rank 6 Legendary. While you can’t send the Bag to another character, you can package up the Soul Ash and Soul Cinders via Bonesmith Heirmir to transfer the contents (albeit at a slight loss).
Runecarver Memories are account wide, but unless you’ve already played that class on a different character, your alt won’t have access to the vast majority of Memories needed for Legendaries. Fortunately, Memories that drop from bosses are supposedly guaranteed now, so it shouldn’t be hard to acquire the ones you do want. The one exception to this are the Memories that drop in the Castle Nathria raid — because it’s hard to find groups for Castle Nathria these days, the developers have placed Rendle in Zereth Mortis to sell the ones acquired therein, which is nice of him considering how much gold he’s acquired from us. These sold Memories are unfortunately not BOA, so the character will need to have enough of one of the currencies (Cosmic Flux, Soul Cinders, Cataloged Research, or Grateful Offerings) to purchase, with Soul Cinders the only one available to send from another character.
With a Legendary crafted and sporting a full complement of ilevel 226+ gear, your alt will be more than ready to handle what Zereth Mortis throws at them.
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