I know there are lots of pop culture references in WoW, but I think there's one that should no longer be overlooked. I have a few ideas on how it can be introduced into Azeroth, most of which involve some psychotic Mechagnome (like Mimiron) constructing a device of ultimate power (like all the other ones we've faced down over the years).
It will be called AIKON, which is an acronym for Advanced Instant Kinetic Output Node. Sounds harmless enough, right? Imagine it as a raid mechanic. You're fighting the boss, but if you take too long, he finishes charging the AIKON. If someone dies, the AIKON gets an extra 5% boost towards 100% charge.
Should the device reach full capacity (enrage timer or too many deaths, so watch the battle rez), the entire raid will be immediately killed. No mercy, no quarter, no Divine Intervention or feign death or anything. If you're alive in any sense of the word, you die. In fact, so does everyone else in Azeroth (on your realm, at least) Instant death across the face of Azeroth. Every critter, NPC, mob, everything.
Now, since that's just asking for epic trolling pretty much 24/7, obviously we'd have to scale back the mechanic (just for gameplay's sake) to contain it in the raid. Still, everyone dies, 100% durability loss (oh yeah, I went there!), and the raid locks down for the week.
One shot. One shot only. Once a week, of course, but still. One chance for the loots.
Should you manage to successfully kill this boss before he charges the AIKON, your raid (all 10 or 25 of you) will recieve a buff that lasts for 24 hours of real time (not game time, but real time, so there'll be no hoarding it) All damage taken is reduced by 50%. All damage done is increased by 50%. Honor, Reputation, and other currency gains are increased by 10%.
Barring all of that stuff (let's face it, I'm just making this up as I go because I'm bored), let's look at the AIKON as an engineering trinket.
Creating the trinket will require you to first create a mechanohog/mechgineer's chopper, a turbo-charged gyrocopter, and a stack of every bomb available (from level 1 dynamite to level 85 ZOMGWTFBBQs). It will be the crowning jewel of *every* engineer's career. Actual construction time once you've gathered the absurd amount of materials needed will be relatively quick. Maybe five minutes. That's an eternity in WoW time, I know.
Next, you'll have to equip the trinket and charge it. Luckily, being a clever engineer, you've managed to include a charging device with the trinket that will convert kills into power. Any mob that grants XP or Honor will help charge the device. Mind you, once it's charged to full, it'll never have to be charged again. It's merely part of the process of obtaining this device of untold power.
Once it's fully charged, the trinket will do two things. On equip, it will give you +1000 Stamina (tank trinket!) and a chance to reflect the entirety of incoming damage back at the attacker. Not a percentage. All of it. You'll take none. This will have to be down at the 2-5% range for gameplay's sake, but stay with me.
This trinket will NOT be Unique-Equipped, however, so if you've got the means drive to create a pair of the AIKONs, do it and equip them both. You won't replace them until long after you've completely annihilated Sargeras in Patch 26.4. They will also NOT require Engineering to equip. Just to build it. Face it, having it be Engineering only would really wreck the other professions' viability.
Okay, in all seriousness, I know Blizzard would never introduce anything remotely close to this into the game. Balancing against it (or for it, depending on whether it's a trinket or a raid mechanic) would be damn near impossible if any of the crap I said up there was true.
However, what about a third option? Many of you may not recall that during Vanilla, there were things you had to do as a server, not just a guild or a raid team, but as an entire server, in order to progress. Why not have this again?
Let's say that somewhere in Azeroth, a discovery is made of the Titan's last resort. The Lorekeeper of Norgannon doesn't even know much about it. All he knows is that the device must be activated by the inhabitants of Azeroth. The Titans themselves cannot activate it. This was to ensure that, should Sargeras ever manage to destroy Azeroth, he could never use the device.
The device will be standing upright in the middle of Stonetalon Mountains (I don't know why, I just picked a zone randomly), having been discovered due to the complete destruction of Stonetalon Peak. Yes, it was buried deep within. We just never knew it.
The device will have a health pool of 500 quadrillion (that's 500,000,000,000,000,000), and have a debuff on it that reduces incoming healing by 99%. It will be discovered at a mere 1 HP left. There are engineers standing around it, gnomes and goblins alike, all working furiously to give the device more power. There are also priests and paladins and shamans and druids all around, attempting to heal the device.
This is Azeroth, just go with it.
Here's where the players come in. You can turn in stacks of ore, cloth, herbs, leathers, food, crafted items, enchanting materials, or pretty much anything at all to some NPC nearby to aid the engineers and healers. So there we've got the gold/materials sink we know WoW so desperately needs right now. What about a time sink? Or an incentive to raid and see more content? Well, here's where it really comes in to play. The device can be healed by players. That's why there are so many zeroes in the health pool. Now you've got a call for healers of any level and race and faction to come out to the device, throw down their best heals, and rock it. What about other players? What will they do?
That's the best part. Other classes have various buffs (both passive and active) that they can throw at a healer to help out. Mages can cast timewarp to speed things up a bit. Warlocks can offer some extra intellect. I'm sure DKs can find something useful to do. The list goes on. So even though the device needs to be healed, all the classes can help, even directly, in that regard.
Once the device reaches 25% health (which will take a long freakin' time, mind you, with that 99% healing reduction debuff on it) Sargeras will become aware of it. He will send demons of the Burning Legion to attack and destroy the device. First, it will be smaller ones. Felhounds and Succubi and the like. Here's where the War Event gets tricky. They will be able to damage the device. They won't hit for much, and they can be killed, but if you don't have enough healers healing or enough other classes killing off the demons, the device will begin to lose power.
As the device increases in health, more powerful demons will begin to arrive. You'll start to have demons that require a 5-man group. Then you'll need 10-mans. Eventually, once you near the 90% mark, you'll start to need multiple 25-mans or (dare I say it?) 40-mans running around the place, picking up demons and burning them down. Of course, you'll have help. Various faction leaders will arrive from time to time, offering their own personal buffs to all players in the area.
Once the device has finally been brought to 100% health, thanks in large part to the hard work and dedication of everyone on the server, the AIKON is brought online.
What happens next is up to Blizzard, but I can only assume the AIKON will do what the Titans intended, and blast off into the cosmos to hunt down and destroy Sargeras.
This post has been brought to you by Hype's wild imagination in combination with an energy drink and boredom at work.
Side Note: In Hyperious' 4+ years of healing, including massive amounts of raid healing during Wrath, he has accumulated 1,898,369,523 total healing done. That's 1.89 Billion heals. Multiply that by 2,000 healers on my server (I'm speculating wildly, as there are people who play a healing-capable class that don't actively heal) and you've got about 4 trillion heals done (assuming everyone heals the exact same as I did). So perhaps the 500 quadrillion health with a 99% debuff is a bit off, but still... We need another big world event. Something that will bring the servers out of the major cities and into the world to do random stuff.