WoW players just solved one of the game's oldest mysteries

In World of Warcraft, you're only as cool as what's between your legs. Mounts are a big deal to some players whose 'gotta catch 'em all' obsession motivates many to spend hundreds of hours trying to earn the nearly 500 that exist. Some are purchased from a merchant, others are the reward for killing a tough boss, but one mount is the prize at the end of a riddle that players have been trying to solve for almost a decade. It's a pink hippogryph and it's kind of ugly looking, but hey, that hasn't stopped a group of mystery-hunters from scouring the Broken Isles’ clues. And it looks like that persistence has paid off.

Back in 2007, players datamined World of Warcraft's game files and discovered a pink hippogryph that they were convinced was a new mount. The only problem? There was no perceivable way to actually obtain the damn thing. At the time, this wasn't all that special—these eagle-meets-horse monsters are a staple of Warcraft and plenty of variations are easy to obtain. But as the years ticked by and the pink beast was nowhere to be found, it began to accrue mythical status. Why hadn't Blizzard released it? Or, perhaps worse, had players missed the clues that led to it this whole time?

Just when they thought they were so close, the Long-Forgotten Hippogryph eluded them again.

It turned out to be the former. Following the launch of WoW's current expansion, Legion, dataminers discovered clues that the "Long-Forgotten Hippogryph" was hiding somewhere on the Broken Isles. While most players are busy questing and gearing up in Legion, a hardcore few have been hopping in their mystery vans and touring the countryside looking for clues. The big discovery came in a cave. While the Broken Isles has no shortage of caves, players happened upon a few that were so well hidden that Blizzard would be teases to not nestle some secrets within them. As Reddit user 'drflevel' says: "To give you an idea of how hidden these caves were, one is in a broken ship in the middle of the ocean south of Eye of Azshara, through a crack, and then hidden behind kelp, basically three layers of secret you have to find. Another is a hidden cave that has another hidden cave near the entrance that actually has the orb."  

A map with the locations of the caves marked.

Those orbs he mentioned were particularly puzzling as there was no way to interact with them. That was when players discovered an orc NPC named Drak'Thul was standing next to a map with markers denoting the locations of some of the discovered caves. A commenter on fansite WoWHead discovered that by giving Drak'Thul a special item, he would then allow players to click on the orbs.

"Through trial and error we discovered that the orbs had to be clicked in a very certain order," writes drflevel. After posting characters by each orb and playing with the combination, they finally discovered the right order and were greeted with an ominous message.

"Azeroth itself recoils as unleashes an ancient evil. Kosumoth the Hungering walks the land once more…"

Instead of unlocking their pinkish prize, they had spawned a powerful world boss that would amble about the map, waiting for groups of players to challenge him. The reward for slaying him had to be the Long-Forgotten Hippogryph—or so they thought. Instead, Kosumoth rewarded his killers with an octopus pet and a different mount called Fathom Dweller. Just when they thought they were so close, the Long-Forgotten Hippogryph eluded them again. Kosumoth the Hungering was actually an unrelated puzzle altogether. 

Kosumoth is pretty scary, yeah?

The plot thickens 

It seemed as if the this mount would continue to thwart players until one by the name of 'Rawberry' from the European Mal'Ganis server discovered something rather intriguing in the ruined elven zone of Aszuna: a small, pink crystal jutting out of the landscape. While Rawberry could interact with the crystal, there wasn't much indication of what it was for.

Eventually, Rawberry and other players began seeing more of these crystals scattered around Aszuna—five to be exact. As they raced to interact with each one, Rawberry found the fifth one and once they clicked on it, the crystals all disappeared and a message displayed on their screen.

"You hear a faint caw in the distance and then silence…" 

The crystals don't exactly blend in with their environment.

While the specifics of what happened next aren't entirely clear, Rawberry came to possess an item called "Reins of the Long-Forgotten Hippogryph." Using that item awarded her with the legendary coral-colored creature, which a German fansite, Mein-MMO, was able to confirm she had.

Since then, players have been going mad trying to figure out how the exact process works. The crystals despawn for an unknown amount of time after the fifth crystal has been used, but there's plenty of debate about other specifics like how long they take to appear. In a Reddit thread announcing the discovery, other players have confirmed to have also earned their own pink hippogryph, though accounts vary as to where the crystals are spawning in Aszuna. Right now, it would appear that each spawns within a determined area, but the specific location tends to vary each time.

Not everyone is excited about the discovery however. Many are criticizing the puzzle for the Long-Forgotten Hippogryph to be little more than a long spawn timer that players will need to camp out and compete with one another in order to earn. "I think the idea of it being a mystery to solve, much like Kosumoth, was far more interesting," writes 'ZayrenS.' "I'm just tired of having to compete with other players on my server to get rare items, and tired of having to camp out spawns." 

A map showing the presumed locations where the crystals spawn.

With a potential wait of hours to days between each crystal spawn, I can sympathize with ZayrenS—even though I still think that these types of mysteries are one of the coolest things about Legion. It's a common criticism that modern MMOs like World of Warcraft aren't nearly as social as their ancestors used to be, but it's fascinating watching the way something as innocuous as a crystal can bring the community together as they speculate. For me, that's the real reward, not a salmon-colored bird monster. And from the looks of it, there's plenty more mysteries that need solving. 

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.